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Recently I wondered why my teen was taking so long (well, longer actually because she is a teen after all) to get ready for school and bed. Checking her phone like I usually do, I found she was sending positive quotes to all her friends at the beginning of the day and the end of the day. At first, I was annoyed because it wasn’t like a group text, it was each one individually.

Then I sat back in awe of this human I was raising to be so compassionate, so caring, so utterly empathetic to make each one of her friends feel so special.

RELATED: Dear Daughter, Be the Girl Who Lives Out Love

In this world filled with so much chaos and what seems like a lack of empathy, I feel so proud that my teenager can express her caring nature to her friends. But how did she learn this? Teenagers, in general, are not the most empathetic individuals walking around. And then the revelation came.

Maybe, amidst the craziness in the day, she may have learned it from me.

Now, I am a far from perfect mom by any means. I can lose my temper, I miss appointments, and recently I didn’t do a great job skimming a Valentine’s Day email from my 4-year-old’s school about needing goodie bags (oops!). But the one thing I am excellent at is telling my kids I love them and that I am so proud of them.

I will always be the mom who says I love you many times a day. I probably tell the kids I love them at least five times a day. This means in the 18 years they are under my roof, they will have heard “I love you” more than 30,000 times! That’s so crazy to think about.

But to me, “I love you” means so much. It means I care for you. It means I see you. It means I will protect you.

It means you are worthy of some of the most cherished words in our language.

My kids are so confident by hearing me tell them I love them and giving them positive affirmations that they usually repeat it back to me. They know they are amazing, they know they are loved, and they know they are capable of creating a positive change in this world. And now my teenager is creating that change starting with her friends.

RELATED: Dear Tween, I Could Not Love You More

So today, even with all the craziness going on around you, don’t forget to say “I love you” to the kids at least five times. Give them that long hug. Because I promise, you aren’t just changing their lives, you are changing so many more too.

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Hillary Rodriguez

My name is Hillary Rodriguez, and I am a wife and mother of three children. My eldest child was born with severe visual impairments. I volunteer my time with my local Special Education PTA and parent organization for families of children with visual impairments. I believe in teaching children and families to advocate for themselves. In my downtime, I like to walk, read books, and travel with my husband. 

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