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We’ve started a new tradition in my house for when my kids get in trouble, which happens daily. When they begin to freak out (which they always do when they get in trouble), I have them say a phrase with me: “What can you do to make me (Mom) not love you?”

The answer? “Nothing.”

At first, I said it. Then, they said it. Now, it’s become habit: If I say, “What can you do to make me not love you?” they simply (and tearfully) respond, “Nothing.” They don’t always sound convinced, and sometimes they try to throw out some dramatic scenarios, but my answer always stays the same: “Nothing.”

I don’t think this will make my kids perfect. On the contrary: I don’t expect my kids to ever be perfect. That’s why I want them to be firm in their belief that I still love them — especially when they’re not perfect.

I think shame tries to tell us a different story. Shame wants us to think that because we made a mistake, or we did or said the wrong thing, we’re no longer lovable — that our mistake was not an action we took, but our default way of being. That is a lie.

It took me a long time to learn that it’s a lie. If I‘m being honest, it’s still a daily battle. I’m hoping to break that cycle for my kids. I want my voice to be louder and more consistent than the shaming voice in their head. Shame may tell them they’re not good enough, that they’re bad, that they’re a walking mistake. But over that — or maybe under it, in a whisper, I hope they also hear my voice saying, “What can you do to make me not love you?”

And that they can’t help but answer, “Nothing.”

What about you? What “mottos” or belief statements that you use with your kids to help affirm them? I would love any new ideas, and I am sure I am not the only one, so share below!

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