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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top 5 Most Important Things your Child Needs for Christmas

If you are a parent, most likely you've had a handwritten list or a verbal list of gifts your child/children would like to get for Christmas this year.  I usually have just a verbal list, but as my children are getting older (and I am, too!) I asked them to write down their list this year.  It's been helpful as I've purchased items off of it for the past month.

Instead of focusing on physcial gifts, I want you to imagine what a child might write down if they could concentrate only on what would be good for their emotional well-being.  Of course, these are not things that children (or most of them) will recognize as something they need, but mature adults certainly will. 

Here are the Top 5 Most Important things your child needs for Christmas.  You'll notice that this list doesn't actually have anything to do with "things", though.  It only has to do with the relationship between a child and his parents.  This things might seem to be "cheap" as far as money goes.  You don't have to go to a store or buy online.  But, these things are priceless.  There is no way to purchase them.  They are gifts that parents and children give each other, but their worth is immeasurable.

1.  LOVE
Children need love.  Unconditional love.  Love that will not change dependent on either persons' moods, struggles, or anything else.  A love a parent has for his/her child, should mimic the love that God has for His children.  God may be disappointed by our actions, our choices, or our behavior towards Him, but He still loves us. 

As parents, we may be disappointed by the actions, choices or behavior of our children, but we should still love them. Love isn't buying gifts.  Love isn't spending lots of money or going on vacations all of the time.  Love is being there.  Love is caring.  Love is kindness to one another.  Love is action.

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Love is patient, love is kind.
1 Corinthians 13:4

Almost as important as love, is discipline.  That may seem strange to some, but it's true.  "Why?" you may ask.  Let me explain.  Children only feel loved when they feel secure.  A home without discipline feels insecure to a child.  A child may resist the very boundaries he/she craves, but that is normal.  They need the boundaries and they need those boundaries to be unmovable.  Boundaries that are ever-changing and movable aren't stable.  Homes without discipline aren't stable, either.

I once had a friend tell me she was always jealous of me because I had rules to follow....because I had curfews to obey.  I thought that was so strange at the time, but she explained that she didn't feel loved in that way, because her parents didn't care what time she came in or have any certain guidelines about many things in her life.  As a parent, I now understand what she meant.  My children are thankful for the boundaries that are in place.....even when they may try to move them.

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod
and save his soul from death.
Proverbs 23:13-14

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,

but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 13:24

3.  TIME
You can't love someone like you should, without spending time with them.  It's almost impossible.  Of course, with today's technology, there are ways to stay connected without actually being face to face, but remember (this is extremely important!):  CHILDREN NEED TO SEE YOU FACE TO FACE!  THEY NEED TO TALK TO YOU FACE TO FACE!  No cell phone, Facebook page, Skype chat, or anything else can take the place of face to face time.  Never!  Ever!

Our hectic, busy lives can leave little time for family, if we're not careful.  Make plans to be together.  If you are like our family, sometimes it's a treat just to all be in the car together!  Sounds strange, but it's really rare!  We have to work hard to have time together, but it is extremely important. 

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Your faith in God is your own.  Your faith in God....your trust in Jesus....will not get your child to Heaven.  Only he or she has the ability to make those decisions on their own.  However, I strongly believe that your faith - or rather your lack of faith - can have a huge role in whether your child does NOT go to Heaven.  Yes, it is still up to he/she to make those decisions, but without a foundation laid by the parents, it just makes it so much harder for them to be seeking God.  Sadly our society, as a whole, puts more emphasis on careers and success than it does in faith and salvation.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26

 A child who is raised up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4) knows about God.  He/she has most likely been told the Good News about Jesus and been a part of His church.  Children who are learning about faith from their parents are learning how to cope in trials and struggles with God's mighty hand guiding them all the way.  They will be self-sufficient because of what they know they can do, but only because of Christ....not because of themselves.  They have a God-confidence, not a self-confidence.  They grow to have a faith that no one can destroy!  What an awesome gift!

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
I Thessalonians 2:11-12

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
Deuteronomy 4:9-10

It's amazing the expectations some parents have for their children.  So many parents expect their children to be the best player in their particular sport.  Maybe they have to score a certain number of points or strike out a certain number of batters, etc. Some expect their child to be the very top in academics in their class, have straight A's, etc. It's a hard thing for parents NOT to do.  I know!  We've struggled as parents with some of that, too.  It's not that it's bad to be the sports star or the academic whiz.  There's nothing wrong with those things at all.  The problem is when their are unrealistic expectations or when the parent is trying to live out their past (possibly unsuccessful past in some situations) and want their needs/desires met by their child's fame.  That's when the child's value is placed on their performance rather that for who they are as a person.

It's also a problem if we care more about the fact that our preschool children can say their ABC's or read or whatever, yet care less if they know anything about the Bible - the books of the Bible, the stories (true stories!) in the Bible, or about creation of the world.  What are you showing your child that you value?

Value God. Value Jesus. Value your child.  Value each other.  Honor each other.  Praise each other - not in a superficial way, but genuine, heartfelt praise.  Praise that isn't dependent on how many touchdowns he made or what score she made on an exam.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord , children a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3

So, you see.....these top five gifts of what your children need are simple.  Simple, yet oftentimes hard.  Hard and difficult, but very, very much worth it.

Merry Christmas to YOU!

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

Amen! And sometimes Dads that travel just have to do the best they can. My youngest told me about a long texting conversation between him and his Dad and two siblings yesterday!

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