Why Do We Say This?

It doesn’t matter how old they are—whether they’re a toddler walking around the house or an adult heading home after a family dinner—we tell our kids to ‘be safe.’ As if they can consciously walk safer. As if they were planning on getting in a terrible accident in the car.

We say “Be safe” because we worry, of course. But also because we don’t process our options properly. Because we don’t take the time to figure out what we really mean to say—and use the opportunity to say it.

What we should say—instead of silly platitudes like “Be safe” or “Be careful”—is equally impotent against danger but at least it’s honest and at least it puts it out there. What we should say is this: I care about you so much. You mean the world to me. I think about you constantly. I would do anything to make sure you are safe and happy.

The love you feel for your kids causes anxiety. Of course it does—you worry about the things you care about. But expressing that worry and anxiety does not make anyone feel loved. So tell them that instead. Tell them what they mean to you.

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