What do our children really need?

We are entering the time of year when catalogues start arriving in the mailbox. My kids love to flip through various brochures about toys and games. “Ooh, Daddy, I need this!” My typical response is: “Do you need it, or do you just want it?”

It’s so easy for well-meaning parents like us to get caught up in the race of providing as much as you possibly can for your children. For some parents, it’s about giving them things that they didn’t have themselves growing up. For others, it’s making sure the kids have the same opportunities as their classmates. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting the best for your kids, but if it distracts us from giving them what they actually need, perhaps it’s time to refocus.

Let’s redouble our efforts to make sure our priorities are meeting kids’ needs, not satisfying their wants. I think you can sum it up in three basic things our kids actually need:

Our love. Perhaps this could go without saying, but the primary thing our children need is our love. We not only should love them unconditionally, but they should know and understand that we love them. Just as adults, children express and receive love in different ways. It’s important to understand your children, and express your love for them in the way they understand it best. If you aren’t sure, pick up Gary Chapman’s books The Five Love Languages and The Five Love Languages of Children.

Our time and attention. Where and how you spend your time says a lot about what you value. Life is a constant evaluation of priorities. If being stuck at the office constantly keeps you from being a part of your kids’ lives, maybe its time to look for a new job. Does maintaining a spotless home affect the amount of time you focus on your children? Do your kids have to ask you to put down your phone? Maybe it’s time to let the laundry pile up one week. Or, maybe it is time to delete your social media apps on your phone. Our kids need us, not a distracted version of us.

Our prayers. Corrie ten Boom once wrote, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” When I read this quote, it really hit me. Do we pray regularly for our families, or do we pray when they have a specific need? When things are going pretty well, I have a tendency to neglect my prayer life more. We need to stay committed and focused, praying for our children on a daily basis.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11, ESV)! Let’s give good gifts to our children: love, time and prayers. If we do, God is surely to make His presence known in their lives and ours.