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Saying "I Love You"

At our recent author talk with Torrey Rush, the conversation veered to why family members struggle to verbalize their love for one another. Is it a race thing? A gender thing? A societal thing? A cultural thing? Too often, people demonstrate their affection through food, gifts, or even through well meant criticisms rather than coming right out and saying "I love you."

Torrey knew that he had to get in touch with his emotions in order to deal with the death of his father, and to raise emotionally healthy children who know without a doubt that they are loved. Through our conversation, others in the audience recognized this lack of communication in their own families, and left inspired to tell their children or parents how they feel.

But saying "I love you" after many years of emotional silence can be difficult.

Torrey used letter writing as a way to open up to his family members and express how he was feeling and what he was dealing with throughout his grieving process. A timely NPR article also addresses this issue -- particularly among immigrant and single-parent families -- citing a Seattle-area football coach's efforts to open up emotional dialogue by asking parents to write letters to their children, and how important and meaningful it was for those children to finally get those loving words.

However it happens, I hope this conversation about family dynamics and emotional openness continues, and that we can all find ways to let our loved ones know how much they mean to us. And hopefully, we can do it right now rather than waiting for a tragedy or loss to provide motivation.

Below are some books, both fiction and nonfiction, that explore the family dynamics of reluctant emotional communication.


Loving Each Other by Leo F. Buscaglia
Amazon Says: In this exploration of loving and living, bestselling author Leo Buscaglia addresses the intricacies and challenges of love relationships. He asks such important questions, as more...
Amazon Says: In this exploration of loving and living, bestselling author Leo Buscaglia addresses the intricacies and challenges of love relationships. He asks such important questions, as: How do we best interweave our lives with our loved ones? Do we change our way of relating depending on the circumstances: If we fail in one relationship, can we succeed in others? In this exhilarating book, Leo doesn't give pat answers. He presents alternatives and suggests behavior that opens the way to truly loving each other. He recalls with heartwarming detail the importance of his own family and friendships in helping him to be open to grow and to love. less...
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The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan
Amazon Says: When Robbie spends the summer at his grandmother Maddy's house, he revels in his grandmother's easy, relaxed ways. Robbie has always felt as if something is missing in his lif more...
Amazon Says: When Robbie spends the summer at his grandmother Maddy's house, he revels in his grandmother's easy, relaxed ways. Robbie has always felt as if something is missing in his life—his parents don't always act like they love him. Maddy helps him understand that an experience his mother had long ago is at the heart of the problem in his family. With this knowledge, Robbie finds the courage to try to make things right.This poignant story from beloved author Patricia MacLachlan celebrates how our unique "small truths" make each of us magical and brave in our own ways.Publishers Weekly Best Children's BookALA Booklist Notable Children's Books NomineeNew York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Does your child speak a different language? Sometimes they wager for your attention, and other times they ignore you completely. Sometimes they are filled with gratitude and a more...
Amazon Says: Does your child speak a different language? Sometimes they wager for your attention, and other times they ignore you completely. Sometimes they are filled with gratitude and affection, and other times they seem totally indifferent. Attitude. Behavior. Development. Everything depends on the love relationship between you and your child. When children feel loved, they do their best. But how can you make sure your child feels loved? Since 1992, Dr. Gary Chapman's best-selling book The Five Love Languages has helped more than 300,000 couples develop stronger, more fulfilling relationships by teaching them to speak each others love language. Each child, too, expresses and receives love through one of five different communication styles. And your love language may be totally different from that of your child. While you are doing all you can to show your child love, he may be hearing it as something completely opposite. Discover your child's primary language and learn what you can do to effectively convey unconditional feelings of respect, affection, and commitment that will resonate in your child's emotions and behavior. less...
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The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Amazon Says: Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories--particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and S more...
Amazon Says: Anyone who has read J.D. Salinger's New Yorker stories--particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esme With Love and Squalor--will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children. The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep. less...
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