Letting children know we are glad to have them

There are days set aside to praise mothers and fathers. Weeks before, we are reminded--in ads, on television commercials, and by bulging greeting card racks--to Remember Mother--and, a few weeks later, to Remember Dad.

But who reminds us to tell our children we are glad we have them?

There is a day in June called Children's Day. It is noted on a few calendars. But even the greeting card manufacturers ignore it. You may care enough to send the very best, but even Hallmark won't say this for you.

Once, when I was small, I saw Children's Day on a calendar and thoughtfully pointed it out to my mother.

''Every day,'' she responded, ''is children's day.''

That isn't quite true. Too many children don't realize, as the years fly by, that they are enjoyed, that we are glad we have them.

It's been written that ''a kind word is better than a gift.'' And yet I think many parents are more conscientious about the gifts than about the kind words.

A few weeks ago, a former student of mine came to visit. Mark is near completion of a master's degree in a difficult field at a top university--on an academic scholarship. He worked every summer to help put himself through four years of college. He is an outstanding student, a hard worker, honest and efficient. His younger brother is just like him.

That afternoon he remarked, ''My brother graduates next month. I graduate in June. Then my parents' troubles are over. They'll be able to enjoy life.''

I was stunned.

Later I mentioned this to another teacher who had known the family for years. She said, ''Oh, they were always fine boys. I think the parents know it - but I'm not sure they're the kind to tell the boys that.''

Why not?

Mark may go through life believing that his parents' dominant emotion as he and his brother left home was relief.

Last year at a luncheon I overheard the mother of a friend comment, ''Oh, I enjoyed Nancy's growing-up years.''

Nancy, seated next to me, commented dryly, ''She certainly concealed it well.''

I have another friend who learned, after his father had been deceased five years, that the man had been proud of him.

His Aunt Kate, moving to smaller quarters in retirement, sent John a box of letters his father had written to her. Each letter, written over a period of 25 years, contained glowing paragraphs about John--his achievements, his character, his sense of humor.

John's father had written in eloquent detail to his sister 3,000 miles away of the pleasure he found in his son. But he never told John.

Too many parents, grumbling about how expensive food is, how prices have gone up on children's shoes, how much camp, college, or clothes will cost, forget to mention that although their bank balances may be smaller, their lives are infinitely richer because of their children.

We parents, forever reminding our children to say thank you, too often forget to express our thanks, our appreciation, to the ones who matter most.

A man with 25 years' experience as a junior high school principal once observed, ''You know, I've never seen a case where parents who genuinely enjoy their children--and let them know it--ever have any really serious problems with them.''

Neither have I.

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