Family Life, Feature Story

When Did Your Child First Say ‘I Love you’?

A few weeks ago, my three-year-old son Zechariah did the sweetest thing for me: he said “I love you” without any prompting.

I was working on something in my bedroom and Zechariah came bouncing in the room. He walked up to me and said, “Hi, Mommy.”

“Hey, Zechariah!” I exclaimed happy to see him.

He then gave me a hug and said, “I love you.” Then he looked at me and smiled.

I was really surprised, but I also felt very happy. This was something new. He had never done that before.

You know, when your kids are little, they learn to say “I love you” by you saying it to them. This time, though, it was much different because Zechariah was telling me he loved me all on his own. It was a very special moment. I wish I had a recording of that moment.

My sweet little Zechariah

I looked back at my son and gave him a big smile. “Aww! I love you, too, Zechariah!”

He giggled and hugged me again and said, “I love you!”

And ever since that moment, Zechariah has been saying “I love you” at random moments.

Zechariah also likes to say, “Give me a hug.” While hugging he’ll then exclaim, “I love you!” It’s so sweet.

I used to wonder if when my kids said “I love you” in response to my saying it to them did they really understand what the expression meant. Sometimes I thought maybe they just learned it’s something you say after someone says it to you first.

After having five children, I can tell you kids really do know what the expression means. I’m sure at first when they hear you say it they learn it’s a loving phrase to say. But over time and through observation, our children learn “I love you” is an expression to say when you feel love for someone.

Travis carrying Zechariah (age 14 months) on his shoulders.

In our family, we say “I love you” to each other every single day. Even my teens say “I love you”, though usually it’s before they leave the house to go somewhere.

It makes me happy to know Zechariah now understands love is a happy feeling you feel for someone. That tells me Travis and I are saying “I love you” to the children very often and they are learning the importance of love.

Being a mother is a beautiful gift and a joyous journey. It has forever changed my life in so many wonderful ways. Yet, the truth is I’m not perfect and sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with parenting.

But it’s those special moments like Zechariah randomly coming up to me and saying “I love you, Mommy” that lets me know I’m doing something right after all.

I am surrounded by a great amount of love with my five children and every moment, from the joyous ones to the stressful ones, are truly worth it all.


Do you remember the first time your child said I love you to you?

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What are your thoughts?