In a “give me, give me” world, it is easy to get confused what kids really need from their parents. As parents, we want to give our kids many things, and sometimes we want to give them all the things we might have never had. Physically speaking, we know that kids need air to breathe, food, water, and shelter. But, spiritually speaking, what do our kids really need from us?
Kids need love.
From the time children are born into this world, they are totally dependent on others. They need a lot of love from their parents. It is proven that human touch is so very important to a baby. Babies need love in the form of touch, care, and attention. God told us that He is love (1 John 4:8). As a baby grows, he will need to be showered with unconditional love from his parents! He will need to learn about God through his parents. Love also translates into time; kids everywhere in the world equate time with love. Economical status really is of little matter concerning this. Our time does not always cost a certain dollar amount, but it is a precious thing! Spending time with your children shows so much more love than anything that you can buy them. Think about two scenarios. You can buy a child a toy for one dollar and then sit and play with him for an hour. Or you can buy a child a toy that is $100 and think to yourself, “I have done my part; he needs to go play now.” Most likely, the child will feel more true love with the hour spent than receiving the expensive toy.
Kids need godly parents.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
Parents need to teach their children any and every opportunity they can! We as parents cannot expect the church to teach our children everything they need to know about God and the Bible. It has to start at home. It needs to be a way of life. It needs to be integrated in our daily life…when we sit in our houses, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. We must seize the moments that we have with our children! This may mean waking up earlier if the child goes to school. Most parents feed their children in the morning before they are sent off to school. However, the “spiritual food” is often neglected because of the rush of the morning. It only takes about 5-10 minutes to read a chapter of the Bible. It only takes about one minute or two to read one verse, talk about it, and pray together.
Kids need the Bible. If they are small, it is our job as parents to teach them. Try to develop a true love for God’s Word. This will be in the form of singing and holding or loving their Bibles when they are as young as babies. Then, when they are in the toddler years, make the Bible come alive for them! Act out stories, color pictures, etc. when you are teaching the Bible. Make an effort! Their love for God’s Word is not going to come naturally if you do not encourage it! When they begin to learn to read, let them read some to you, and you can help explain words or meanings. It is also beneficial for children to listen to an audio Bible on their tablets or other devices. Even if they do not understand everything, they are learning to listen to God’s Word, and you will be surprised at how much they can learn! Be joyful and intentional about your “Bible times” with your children. Be excited to gather around the table and study God’s Word; be excited to have family Bible devotionals together! They will see your joyful attitude and imitate that love for God’s Word! Try to be as consistent as you can with these “Bible times.” We are creatures of habit, and a habit may take about two months to form (Lally, et.al., 2010, 40:998-1009). Therefore, what better habit could you have than creating time for teaching the Bible to your children!
Kids need play time.
This is not too hard for most kids. Let us make sure that we allow them this important part of their growing life. Kids learn things through play, and we can be near them and help them to be able to get along with their siblings or other children. During free play, there are lots of opportunities to observe their attitudes. Also, be interested in your children and take time to play what they would like for you to play with them! Kids feel loved when you take the time to sit down and ask questions about what they are interested in and show how you care about it!
Kids need discipline.
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Proverbs 13:24). Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction (Proverbs 19:18).
It is clearly spoken in the Bible that we are to train our children in the Lord and to administer discipline in order to teach them. Children need to know boundaries, and parents need to be consistent in their discipline. They need to know that they are expected to obey the first time. They need to know that the family is a unit or a team in which all work together with a common purpose. The children are not in competition with each other to see who is the “best” at being a child! Their household chores are meant to be a collaboration to help the family because Mom and/or Dad does not need to be doing every chore for them! They can be contributing members of the family as they grow older, resulting in mutual respect for one another.
As you give kids many things, do not forget to give them what they really need!
Lally, Phillippa, et.al. (2010), “How Are Habits Formed,” European Journal of Social Psychology, October.