There are many clues that our children give us when they feel deprived in this area of nurturing. Many times, very small children may act out. Many tantrums are brought on because they are going through rapid development that they don’t understand. During these young years, extra time spent cuddling with a parent can make a huge difference. If a child seems to be crying over a lot of things that really aren’t a big deal, this should be a clue to us that they need more of us. As they get a little older and capable of expressing their thoughts, listen for statements like these:
“Mommy, will you hold me?”
“I wish we could spend more time together.”
“I don’t feel loved.”
“You like _____ more than me.”
“I miss you.”
“Remember when we used to ______? I wish we could do that more.”
When they are young, usually they just want to be held. As they get older, they tend to want to do things together or talk. Don’t assume, however, that because a child doesn’t say anything about wanting or needing you, that they are fine. Personalities are different, and some children may not express their feelings as easily or in the same way. But all children need to know they are loved and valued.
Our presence in the home is vital to raising our children. But just as I relayed at the beginning, our presence alone isn’t enough. How we use our time is key. We need to study our children. By that I mean we need to seek to understand them in four key areas: developmentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The Proverbs 31 woman was spoken of in this manner: “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:27) Watching over the ways of our household includes being tuned into the hearts of our children.
Children need parents. As mothers, we have been gifted as nurturers. Embrace this gift and don't be tempted to push your children aside. Don’t ignore them. Aside from God, parents are next important in terms of relationships for them. They will learn of their self-worth from us first. They will learn their worldview from us.
In our home, spending concentrated time and attention with a child means doing little things on a constant basis. These things will vary depending on the age of the child. Here are some ideas:
- Just sit down and hold them – No other agenda.
- Go to the mailbox together and talk.
- Go for a longer walk together and talk.
- Read a book together.
- Cook a meal together.
- Help them do a chore.
- Do their chore for them.
- Write a note to them. Leave it somewhere special for them to find.
- Sing together.
- Pray and read the Bible together.
- Take them along on a shopping trip.
- Point out something good they’ve done and celebrate.
- Let them stay up 30 minutes past regular naptime or bedtime to do something special with you.
- Learn something new together.
- Let the child teach you something new.
- Play a game.
- Do a hobby the child enjoys.
- Look them in the eyes and tell them, “I love you.”
- Hug and kiss often.
- Stop whatever you are doing and listen to them, giving them your undivided attention.
Did you notice something about these ideas? They do not cost extra money. They are not elaborate. They involve ordinary family life. The mail has to be gotten out of the mailbox. Groceries have to be bought. Meals must be cooked. The fun things and hobbies are things we already have and are doing. It doesn't have to take money, but it does take time. While doing any of these activities, I like to express to my kids that I enjoy spending time with them. I like to tell them how they are blessings to me.
Investing in our children means we are investing in future generations. We are making a difference in the kingdom of God through our motherhood.
Hold your children.
Hold their hand.
In so doing, hold their heart.