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Using this simple phrase can show your kids you love them unconditionally

mom hugging emotion daughter parenting phrases
Alison Winterroth/Stocksy

As a parent, there’s no question that you love your child unconditionally, but kids can’t always see that. Like all of us, they need affirmation—especially when they make a mistake.

Anjuli Paschall (@lovealways.anjuli) went viral when she shared a simple phrase her mother said to her as a kid that she vowed “will absolutely change your life and the lives of your children.” That phrase is: “I love you more than…”

In the reel, the author and mother of five explained how her mom still uses this phrase with her and gave an example of how it works. Paschall told the story of how she was doing dishes on Christmas, washing the fine china her family only takes out once a year. “As I was washing the dishes and stacking them, five of the 12 dishes shattered to the floor. It was devastating,” she said. “And my mom, in a moment, without hesitation, screamed from the other room, ‘I love you more than those dishes.’”

“See, she’s been saying this to me my whole life,” she continued. “ [When I was] 5, 10, 15, 16, 25, 35, 40, she says, ‘I love you more than…’ When I got bad grades, ‘I love you more.’”

The affirmation isn’t strictly for “bad” things, either. “Even when I did something really well: ‘I love you more than how well you performed,’” Paschall noted. “What she’s doing in that moment is giving unconditional love.”

She went on to explain how important this simple phrase is to hear, especially when we make mistakes. “We expect shame, we expect a loud scold, but instead she moved in with gentleness and love and it’s made all the difference since,” Paschall said. “And I think really, truly what we really want more than anything is to know that we are unconditionally loved.”

The mom then circled it back to how using these words can strengthen your relationship with your kids. “Practice that phrase with your kids,” she said, “and I promise it will change you as a mom and impact the lives of your kids.”

The comment section was a mix of parents giving their own examples of using this affirmation and heartbreaking messages from those who wish their own parents spoke to them this way as children. “I grew up with the opposite of this, and it makes me sob to know that it’s possible but I was not fortunate enough to receive this type of love,” one follower wrote. “This is such a beautiful alternative- thank you for sharing.”

Paschall replied with an endearing message. “I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve endured,” she wrote. “You are loved.”

We’re not crying, you’re crying.