The simple answer would probably be "no", but the issue is not that simple. There must be a lower limit, but where does it lie?? Are we doing something wrong as parents when we say "too little" or "too often"?? Here is my opinion.
The phrase is perhaps the most meaningful phrase in any language, the phrase we use to communicate that certain people are very important and very close to us. "I love you" is powerful because love is so necessary – love remains one of life’s basic needs that children especially need to become strong, confident adults.
Is it enough for parents to make their children feel loved? Or must one say the sentence absolutely? If so, how often?
The culture and education are our guide
I come from the USA, where the phrase is very important and heard very often. My parents must have said it to us every day, at least when they put us to bed. It was nice when I was a child, but I think that "I love you" can be said so often that it loses its meaning.
For example, if I were to express the phrase every time I said goodbye – which is not such a big exception in America – it would just be too much for me. Several times a day is just not necessary, and a short, out of duty said "Love you!" looks fake and even hypocritical. Among adults I find this superficial handling unbearable, and I would like my children to learn to appreciate the value of "I love you".
"I love you" means something, and in my opinion, we should be somewhat sparing and careful with precious words.
Do you have to say it at all?
Is it important then to ever say "I love you" when you are behaving lovingly with your family and friends anyway? I think clearly yes. Words without actions are of course not so valuable. But if you already have the love in your heart it really hurts to express it?
No. I am always horrified to hear from German friends and family that their parents either never said "Ich hab dich lieb" or hardly ever said it at all. I find it hard to imagine a childhood without the phrase – for an American, it’s really incomprehensible. I don’t necessarily think that someone is a failure as a parent if they can’t tell their kids…but I do find it sad.
How often should we say it?
Sometime in the early years I noticed that I very seldom say this sentence to my children. WHAT? How could I forget?! All right, then I’ll consciously and consistently incorporate the phrase into my daily routine so that my children will regularly hear that I love them, just like my parents did. Or they know it anyway, even if I am stressed, annoyed, or in a bad mood and don’t really feel like fulfilling this obligation?
Naturally. I have no obligation to say "I love you" every day, even though I heard it every day as a child. I show my love every day by getting up and making a snack, driving children to kindergarten, picking them up again, going shopping, putting plasters on wounds, offering a handkerchief, reading a book, cooking, asking for a hug, putting children to bed, singing to them. If it comes to me from the gut, sure I say "I love you."But this is not a fixed part of my routine – and so it fits.
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With my children I do not hesitate
My goal is, as often as I feel the love, to admit it out loud. It doesn’t have to be a regular beat, but once in a while the kids can hear it.
Why not? I love her more than anything, even if I don’t say it for a week. That’s what my kids can count on every day forever.