Parenting children uniquely reveals your strengths and weaknesses. In this broken world, broken parents can never be perfect, but we can learn to emphasize the most important things.
In order for your child to pick up on emphases, however, he or she must hear them and see them nearly every day. It's easy to make one of two errors.
First, it's easy to naively assume that mere words will communicate your values. If these words are not backed up by action, however, they will ring hollow.
The second error is to assume that your child will interpret your actions and learn the lessons behind them. They need to hear the words, not just see the actions.
Like a good song, the music must fit the words. If your words say one thing and your actions another, it'll fit no better than a poorly matching tune. But without the words, music can only communicate so much.
There are at least six things your preschooler should hear from you on a consistent basis.
1. "I Love you"
We all experience love differently. For some, actions or gifts can mean a lot, but everyone needs to hear these simple words every day: "I love you."
2. "I Forgive you"
The Christian life is a life of repentance. Everyday we sin against God and others, so every day we confess our sin, ask for forgiveness, and remind ourselves of Christ's righteousness.
From an early age, your child should learn to say, "Will you forgive me?" and receive this clear answer from you.
3. "You are responsible"
We are responsible for our actions, words, and thoughts. From an early age, our children should know that they are responsible before God and before man.
4. "Will you forgive me?"
Because parents are humans, we sin every day against God and others. It's only right, then, that these words escape our lips daily. Admitting your weakness and sinfulness also helps your child look to God for his or her ultimate help.
5. "I'm so proud of you"
Your preschooler needs to know that you are proud of him or her. It's important, however, not to communicate that your love fluctuates based on their performance.
6. "God loves you"
The most important word for your preschooler to hear is "God loves you." Because God is the most important person in the universe, his position towards us is paramount. God's love isn't simply conceptual or theoretical. God showed his love in Christ's dying in our place when we deserved the very opposite.