As we look to the Scriptures for wisdom on the family, it quickly becomes apparent that the greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of love (Titus 2:4).
Our children, at the core of their being, need to experience, see, and hear expressed the fact that they are unconditionally loved, accepted, and appreciated. Unconditional love is loving a child no matter what. No matter what the child looks like. No matter what his assets, liabilities, and handicaps are. No matter what we expect him to be, and most difficult, no matter how he acts. This does not mean, of course, that we always like his behavior. Unconditional love means we love the child even when at times we may not like his behavior.
There are so many ways we can show love to our children. In fact, to properly cover the subject would require a book-length treatment. Here our goal is simply to highlight some of the more crucial components of loving children. Good books are available for those seeking a more detailed treatment.
To begin, our children must be shown love and acceptance in both word and action. While it is absolutely necessary to say, “I love you,” there must also be physical expressions of that love in the form of an affectionate touch. A hug, a kiss, a squeeze, and a hair tousling are all little ways of saying a whole lot.
It also says a lot to your children when you attend events that are important to them. Does your child participate in community soccer or baseball programs? If so, make every effort to attend most or all of those games. Does your child participate in gymnastics? Then by all means visit the gym and tell him or her how impressed you are. These are little ways of saying, “I love you.”
Make it a point to know and stay up on your child’s teachers, friends, current interests, fears, wishes, favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite books, favorite songs, and the like. Keeping up-to-date on this ever-changing list is another way of saying, “I love you.” It shows your child that you’re interested.
A key aspect of expressing love to our children is focused attention. Focused attention involves giving attention to our child in such a way that he feels important and unconditionally loved. It involves direct eye contact, undistracted time, and expressions of heartfelt interest in your child and his activities. Focused attention tells your child, “I like spending time with you.” We should “seize the moment” whenever the opportunity arises to give our child focused attention, for this will make an impact on them that will stay with them for life.
Sometimes it may seem to a parent that his or her attempt at “focused attention” is not yielding any
positive results with their child. But be sure that it is.
Time is a precious gift to your child!