3 Ways to Ensure Each Child Feels Loved
- Katie J. Trent Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- Updated Feb 15, 2022
Whether you have one child or ten, one of your most vital parenting missions is to help each child feel loved. When they feel loved, their mental and physical health improves. They build better relationships. And perhaps most important of all, they feel secure enough to take risks as they pursue their dreams.
As busy parents, it's hard to balance all our responsibilities and still find time to cherish each child. But I have good news: It's more than possible with a bit of determination and consistency. It's never too late to start a new habit! So whether you're already doing these things or looking to begin the lifestyle of intentionally expressing love, you can start today with these tips.
The Love of God
Our heart's desire is to help our kids understand their identity in Christ and live out their faith. One of the ways we do that is by demonstrating how deeply they are loved by God and by us. We see the importance of this in 1 John 4:7 (NLT): "Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God."
Parents are the first and most influential people in their children's lives. Kids encounter the love of God through parental love. If we withhold love or fail to express it regularly, our children's perception of God's love for them will be negatively impacted. The better our kids are able to grasp the depth of our love for them, the more easily they will embrace God's love. 1 Corinthians 13 is commonly known as the "love chapter." It's often quoted at weddings and found hanging on walls. Maybe you've read it a hundred times. Or perhaps it's new to you. Either way, I encourage you to read it with fresh eyes today. Ask yourself how well you are reflecting the biblical definition of love. I especially like how The Passion Translation interprets these verses because it shows what love feels like:
"Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one's achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 TPT)
That passage humbles me. I struggle to embody that kind of love, even with those dearest to me. These verses remind me that I cannot love my children on my own strength. I am an imperfect parent and fall short of perfect love every day. Thankfully, God isn't asking for perfection. My faith is not in my stellar parenting but in God's grace and unconditional love. As I share some practical ways I try to show my kids love, I hope you'll hold onto the truth that you don't need to be perfect to be a great parent. Give your best each day and trust God to take care of the rest.
Here are a few ideas to help you intentionally show your child love:
1. Physical Affection
My husband and I have two kids. We've worked hard to make sure both feel special. Physical affection is important, so I try to give hugs, squeeze their hands or shoulders, and cuddle each day. Mornings begin with big hugs. Depending on the day, we cuddle on the couch and read aloud or watch a show. We end our day with prayers before bed, holding hands or snuggling.
2. Words of Affirmation
I tell my kids I love them multiple times a day. We only have one child of each gender, so I can get away with saying each is my favorite boy and girl! If you've got more than one of each, you can simply share that you love them with your whole heart, that they are special, and you are honored to be their parent.
The Bible says that "Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." (Proverbs 16:24 NLT) Our kids need to hear how much we love them. Our words mean more to them than anyone else's words. This also means when we are correcting or disciplining, we need to be mindful of the words we choose. It's critical we show them our love is not conditional based on behavior. I frequently remind our kids I could never love them any more or less. I love them fully always because they are my children.
3. Quality Time
Love is often spelled T-I-M-E. We invest our time in what matters. Once it is gone, we can never get it back. And time with our children is limited! They will never be this age again. Before we know it, they will be in the world with families of their own. It's easy to let time slip away if we aren't guarding it. My husband and I made a commitment early in our marriage to always put family first. We work hard not to allow jobs, ministry, extended family, friends, or other things take precedence over our connection. By choosing to keep God at the center of our lives, we have been able to keep our eyes focused on the things that matter most.
Each night before bed, I spend 5-15 minutes in each child's room. We read a devotion, talk about our day, and pray. This has become a treasured time. It brings me comfort and joy as a mother to know the last moments of each day are spent connecting, so when they lay their heads down, there can be no question how much they are loved. If a parent is working when their kids go to bed, a quick phone call to wish them goodnight, pray for them, and remind them how much you love them can have the same impact. Or, if a parent can't be with their kids, you can record little messages for them or write them notes to be read aloud before bed.
You can create other special moments outside of morning and bedtime too. One of our family favorites is a monthly date. My husband and I take turns having individual time with one of our kids. The only agenda is to connect and make fun memories. You may not believe your kids will remember something so simple, but I'm willing to bet when the days of childhood are long gone, these are precisely the types of memories they will hold onto. Specific gifts, vacation destinations, and even the times you failed terribly as a parent will be forgotten against a lifetime of feeling loved. Invest in little moments today to reap this reward in the future. It is the easiest—and most meaningful—choice you will ever make.
Katie J Trent is the author of the book, Dishing Up Devotions: 36 Faith-Building Activities for Homeschooling Families (Whitaker House). She is also a popular blogger, speaker, homeschool mama, and a Pinterest drop-out with a messy house and happy kids—most of the time. Katie lives in Arizona with her husband James and their two children. For more resources to grow your faith, strengthen your family, and simplify your homeschool, visit KatieJTrent.com. Connect with Katie on Instagram @KatieJTrent.