One of the most important things you can give your children is love—an attitude of love, an assurance of your love. Your children need to know that you love them. They need to feel and see your love expressed towards them.
They see it expressed in the care that you give them in providing housing and food, but they often take these things for granted. They don’t see the sacrifices, or understand how you have structured your life in order to care for their physical needs. Therefore, they need to see spiritual love, emotional love, personal love. This is what will create a bond of love and trust.
Create opportunities for closeness
Love longs for expression. It longs for an opportunity. When you have this attitude of deeper love in your heart towards your children, they will see it, and opportunities for closeness will present themselves. Your children will say, “Dad, would you play this game with me?” “Mom, let me show you what I did at school today.” “Mom, what do you think I should wear to this party?” “Dad, can you help me fix this?”
Look for opportunities. They may not be as you anticipate. You may have to make changes in your schedule. As your kids see and understand that you wish to be more a part of their lives, they will be happy that you are there for them, as a friend wanting to help.
It may begin as simply as watching TV with them, but don’t let it stop there. Provide opportunities for discussion. For example, go places where they like to go, and then talk with them about it. Find out what they liked about it and what their impression was. Their views may be different from your own, but don’t try to push yours on them.
Be there when they need you
Look at the way things are now, the time that you spend in the evenings, the time that they spend in the evenings, the time that you or they spend on the weekends. Are there more ways your lives can touch? Could adjustments be made so that they cross more often? Look at where you may have points in common, activities you can share.
Be there for them, in love. This is not a “being there” in a way that makes them think that you are looking for an opportunity to snoop, lecture them or condemn what they are doing—or to give them more rules or more instruction. It’s simply being there as a friend, as a sounding board, someone they can turn to, someone who will support them.
Is there a sport your son is interested in? Is there a craft your daughter is interested in? Can you be a part of these in some way? Look at the ways your children are reaching out, and see what interests and experiences you can share together.
Discover the art of listening
Listening to your kids is one of the main ways you can help them. Learn to really listen. When you ask, “How was school?” stop and listen to how their day went. When problems are presented to you, you don’t always have to comment on the spot. Rather than pass judgment, take time to think about it, or pray for a solution. The main thing is to be a listener; provide a listening ear, as well as love and encouragement and support.
The ultimate safety net
Many children simply need a firm footing of love and acceptance by their parents. This foundation of love provides a cushion of protection and security around them that will help keep them from danger and bad influences, or even the pain of rejection by their friends. Your love and acceptance will provide a safety net of protection at such times. If they know that you will not reject them, even for their mistakes or foolish actions, they will come to you and there will be the bond that you desire.
They need to know that you will always love them no matter what they do, that nothing will ever take your love away. They must know that they can always talk to you; that even though you may not agree, you may not see eye to eye, you may even think that they’ve done something that is very wrong or harmful, still you are always their parent. You will always love them and they can always come to you. Even if all hell would break loose, your child would know that they will always have your love.
Excerpted from the book "Parenteening" by Derek and Michelle Brookes. © Aurora Productions. Used with permission.