Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

Disclaimer: sleep-deprived overtired mommy of a toddler and newborn here, sharing thoughts and feelings based on experience and observation. Kindly excuse the haphazardly written thoughts. If this write-up helps even one person, I will feel accomplished and blessed.

Have you ever told your parents that you love them or have you been told by your parents that they love you?
Do you tell your kids, “I love you,” every now and then?

Ask your parents, if they ever told their parents the 3 magical words, “I love you.” I think it’s safe to say that most will answer “no” to that.

I wonder why our previous generations (Boomers and Silent generation) had such a hard time expressing love for their parents and subsequently for their kids? Is it a cultural or regional thing? Of course, there are always exceptions but I am talking about the majority of people. Is it because they were also never told by their parents that they are loved? So is it a generational issue?

To some it may be an absurd question – saying I love you is overrated and it’s not something to say rather you put it into action. To others, it may be a silly thing to even discuss – because, obviously they have always been told that and they have said that to their parents and kids as well – it’s the most natural thing to do.

Why am I even discussing this?

Well many reasons – and one is the most talked about issue in our generation – mental health. Studies have shown that kids who are repeatedly told that they are loved and cared for grow up to be much more confident and resilient hence they thrive more. Higher self-esteem, better academic performance, better connection and communication with parents, etc are a few of the many qualities they acquire in a loving family environment.

The other most important reason is that – being able to express our love for our loved ones (especially parents, children and partners) is the most divine thing one can experience. We all have different goals and priorities in life and often get too consumed by those to even realize what we are losing i.e. time! Every minute with our loved ones is precious and should never be taken for granted. However, there are parents and children who have immense love for each other and may otherwise express that emotion through different acts of love but never once express it verbally. Is it embarrassment, fear, shyness, or something else?

Have you ever noticed the light in a child’s face when they are told that they are loved? The light that shines from within and the smile that reaches their eyes are simply heavenly ♡ It’s liberating to be able to feel and express love so deeply.

The same thing goes for our parents.

I can appreciate that not everyone will be welcome when expressing love so blatantly to their parents or older kids; especially if you never did so before. You may even get to hear that it’s “Dhong” or “Nekami.” Please don’t pay heed to those things rather focus on building that emotional connection – trust me you will feel rewarded. Whether it’s your elderly parents or older kids or even younger kids, they’ll have their highs and lows – and on the days they feel low, these expressions of love, these reminders are what will keep them afloat. Some may not admit it and some actually surprise you and take it a step further than you.

Shukuralhumdulillah, I was able to break that barrier and shyness in my Amma and Nanu as well as my Abba (Father in law). Their generations, for some reason, didn’t practice expressing a love that way. But if you ask anyone from their generation how would they have felt if they heard it from their parents at least once? It would probably mean the world to them.

I still remember the smiling face of my Amma and my Nanu’s giggles, when I used to pull their cheeks ( yes you read that right) and say, Mamma, Nania I loveeee you…. I could feel how much happiness those simple words brought them. Not only my guardians, I even started telling my father-in-law (Abba) – who is very dear to me – that I love him dearly and unlike his generation (he has always been progressive, Masha’Allah) he broke his shyness and started expressing his love for us too. Not a day goes by when we don’t talk and he never hangs up without saying I love you ma, Babu (my husband), and the kids Shukuralhumdulillah. My husband who often feels burned out and depressed by his Ph.D. work, feels that warmth and comfort in his heart every time he hears his father, our Abba, telling him I love you Baba…… ..Masha’Allah. Even my Nani (my grandmother-in-law) would often tell me, “I love you beta! I see myself in you.” Imagine a nearly 80-year-old woman expressing her love to her Natbou like that. It meant the world to me to hear that from her. And now that my Amma, Nanu, and Nani Shashuri have all gone to neverland – all I hold on to is what they said to me, how they made me feel. When I am at my lowest, their genuinely loving words keep me going.

It is so very important to know that you are loved, especially by your parents and children. I can’t emphasize how vital it is for our well-being. In today’s age, where mental health issues are on the rise, it has become even more necessary to express such kindness and affection to our loved ones. We often underestimate this simple yet powerful medium of communication – it does wonders for our souls.

Don’t take the time you spend with your parents, kids, and partner for granted…parents become kids after a certain age – so kids of all ages feel more secure, feel that comfort and divinity when they are told by their parents that they are loved…over and over again. Life is too short and not being able to tell someone that you love and care for them, may become regrettably painful later on in life.

My beloved Nana Sahab (a great Sufi of his time) said, “Of all the different ways we know how to worship the Divine, LOVE is the highest form. Devotional love is the highest form of worship.” Although, he was talking about a much higher form of love the core of it remains in its expression – feeling it and declaring it – be it towards Allah SWT, our parents, children, partners, or friends……

My kids absolutely love hearing me say I love you Ammu/Mamma to them over and over again. And the smile, the light I see shining through are nothing short of divine – mercy, and blessings from Allah SWT. Shukuralhumdulillah for everything.

Don’t wait for tomorrow……..say I love you from the warmest and deepest part of your heart♡ It doesn’t have to be in English by the way It can definitely be in your native language.

P.S. I would love to know if any of you broke that barrier after reading this and expressed your love to your parents or kids. Please do share how it felt, and how they reacted. Please bear in mind, as rewarding as it is, you may need to make it a habit before this practice brings about some positive impact in your relationships. Much love and all the best.

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