Send anyone this way to read along, but for permission to reprint, please contact Gail.
© Gail Underwood Parker

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Focus on Fostering: Saying "I Love You"

Do you have an adolescent who is mortified when you say “I love you” in front of their friends?  Don’t stop giving them the messages of love and connection. Instead come up with a “secret” family code that means “I love you.”  You can still tell them you love them, and they can return the affection without embarrassment, and with the special touch of bonding through a secret code. 

In our family we used the deaf “I love you” finger sign longer before it became widely recognized in the hearing world.  Later we would call out “RILY” to stand for “Remember, I love you!” 

One day one of my children discovered that when you say “elephant shoes” your lips make the same moves as in saying “I love you.” Bingo a new secret code was born…. Most strangers, hearing us say,  “Don’t forget elephant shoes!” to a departing loved one are just left to wonder where they are going, and what they do!

Image credits:,


  1. I hold my hand up with my finger and thumb just a little bit apart from each other. (Like if you were to casually sign "a little bit" of something.)

    In our family this means, I love you from here (the outside of one finger) all the way around the world and back (to the outside of the other finger).

    My teenager still smiles when he sees me give the code.

  2. I love that idea! I will add it to my repertoire. Thank you so much for sharing with us!.... Any other ideas out there?? Chime in.....