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Why I’m OK If My Son Never Says “I Love You”

Submitted by Rita Brhel on 9 May 2023

My 9-year-old son has never said "I love you."

I honestly never gave it a second thought until I realized I was being told "I love you" multiple times daily by my 5-year-old daughter. For the first time, I began to wonder why my son never said it, neither to me nor to anybody else that I know of. 

While I would never in a million years intimidate him into saying this phrase, the idea that he never said them made me a little sad.

I've said "I love you" to him every day of his life. I harbor no doubt that he loves me intensely, but he's never said the words. It's not that he's emulating his father, because his dad says "I love you" quite often to me and to the kids. Why isn't our son saying it?

My son is funny and joyful and intelligent. He's considerate, respectful, and kind. He likes to play with the neighborhood kids. He carries his backpack on one shoulder, the way the kids do at his school. He high-fives his friends. He air-guitars. To him, I haven't been "Mama" or "Mommy" in years; I'm "Mom."

It was this last thought that sparked the lightbulb over my head. 

I immediately realized that, several times a day, the kid who always calls me "Mom" gives me a large, clinging hug while simultaneously very happily sighing "Mommy." A single hug from him lasts several minutes, and while he never says the words, that wonderfully content sigh of "Mommy" is his "I love you."

This recognition turned my perspective around! No, my son has never said the distinct words of "I love you," but he says he loves me every single day; I just wasn't listening to him. I listen to him now.

In what ways other than saying "I love you," does your child communicate that he or she loves you? How can you communicate your love for your child today without words?


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