Our child’s behavior, decisions, and friend choices are affected by how he feels about himself. As parents, we significantly impact his sense of security, worth, and being loved.
Let’s talk about how we can help our child know he is deeply loved—whether he’s a toddler, teen, or some place in between.
Resources Episode 1: The Best Way To Love Our Child
- 1 John 4.7-8 (ESV)
- Colossians 3.14 (NRSV)
- Lamentations 3.22-23 (ESV)
- Grab a copy of my book, Becoming A Peaceful Mom ~ Through Every Season of Raising Your Child
- Find me on Instagram @teresadglenn
Read Episode 1 Transcript: The Best Way To Love Our Child
As my husband Terrell and I raised our 3 kids, there were times when a child’s attitude caught our attention, and we would look at each other, smile, and say “His tank sure is full.”
Maybe he offers to help one of us, or he seems especially cheerful and content; or he invites his brother or sister to play instead of excluding them. His attitude is noticeable. His words and behavior reveal what we can’t see—a heart that feels full, with love—a full tank.
And then there are those hard days that reveal an emptying tank. Perhaps a child is complaining a lot, being indifferent, or argumentative about almost everything. Maybe he seems to be distancing himself from the family.
We can’t see how our child deals with his experiences internally, even if he’s with us all day and demonstrates some clues. When he’s not with us, we have no idea how he records the events of his day. We don’t know if his attitude pertains to today, something that occurred two weeks ago, or a mixture of experiences.
And that’s okay. Take a breath. God sees, and he knows all the details. He wants to guide and provide all that we need to help our child know he is deeply loved.
How our child feels about himself affects his behavior, decisions, and friend choices. As parents, we significantly impact his sense of security, worth, and being loved. Brothers and sisters, friends and peers, instructors and coaches contribute, too.
All of us are built up or torn down by each other’s words and actions–or lack of either one. Expressed love definitely helps, yet we need the power and completeness of God’s love most—whether we’re toddlers, tweens, teens, or adults.
You and I are God’s beloved. He created us for relationship with him and for us to enjoy him and being loved by Him. It took me a long while to grasp this. For years, I kept those words in my mind as fact, until I determined to learn through the scriptures about how God’s loves me. As I did, the fact in my mind became experiences of God’s love filling my heart. I also invited him to help me unpack and sort through all that Ihad recorded in experiences with people, as “love.” I wanted to throw out the yuk, hold on to the good, and build from there. I share more about how I did this in my book, Becoming A Peaceful Mom.
The thing is, in this broken world of broken people, most of us have experiences that color our understanding of being loved, and thus, how we love someone else, including our child. Some of us know we’ve experienced love through at least one person, while others struggle to identify with something we have no experience with, that is, feeling loved.
God knows your story. And, he gave your child to you. He desires you to be his primary vessel and example of love to your child, to help establish their heart in the security of knowing they are deeply loved. He has confidence in you, that as you depend on him for love and for how to love your child, you will reflect His love beautifully. Draw close to God and be amazed by how He works in you and loves your child through you.
At times our love will be tender, strong, and even willingly sacrificial. But our ability to give love all the time and all the ways our child needs it will fall short. We are incapable of nonstop, unconditional love.
Only God can fill their love tank all day long.
In 1 John 4.7-8, we are encouraged: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love, does not know God, because God is love.”
He is the source of a limitless reservoir of unconditional love. He steadfastly loves us and hopes we will depend on his love through relationship with him.
So how do we do this?
God gives an action step through the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:14: “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Remember, “God is love.” He urges us to be covered (clothed) with him.
Almost every day, I say this prayer for Terrell, our kids, and myself: “God, fill us with your love.”
Consider this— You express love to your child in all sorts of ways, not because she asks you to, but because you love her. Then one day your 5-year old, 11-year old, or 15-year old says, ‘Mom, will you hold me tight right now so I know I’m loved?’
How would you respond? What would stir in your heart?! It’s hard to put into words, isn’t it?
Can you imagine Almighty God’s response when we ask him to fill us more?
Each of us has our own life lessons to help us learn that only God’s love can fill our need for love and value— not who we’re friends with, the stuff we own, our abilities, or our physical appearance. But themes like these have challenged us and will likely challenge our child.
However, we can teach our child about God’s love and practice reflecting this. We can share about our relationship with Jesus and how he fills us with his love. We can encourage them to have a personal relationship with Jesus and then help them walk in it and enjoy his love.
As we raised our kids, I wanted them to know how deeply I love them, yet I knew I couldn’t love them even near-perfectly. I wanted our kids to be awed by how tremendous God’s love is for them.
One day during those lovely middle school years, after countless mess-ups on my part, I decided to have a short sit-down with each child about my ability, their dad’s ability, and their friends’ ability to love them.
I admitted that I know I’ll continue to mess up and not love them well all the time. I gave them examples of when I messed up—like yelling, being critical, or not really forgiving them. And I assured them that God never feels that way about them, that he always loves them and me—even when we mess up.
In each conversation, their facial expression moved from raised eyebrows that I brought up my old mistakes to something like wonder, as they heard me admit how much I depend on and trust God’s love, to help me be a better mom. I said something like, “I think you know I love you, even though my actions might confuse you sometimes. But God’s love for you is impossible for me to put into words; it’s so amazing. And that’s why I go to him all the time, so he helps me love you better —with his love.”
Our effort to love and teach a child about God’s love honors God. He doesn’t expect perfection; rather, He delights when our heart is willing to trust him and follow his lead.
In Lamentations 3:22-23, it says: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Isn’t this wonderful to know?!