Ephesians 6: 1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’ - which is the first commandment with a promise - ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Proverbs 23: 24
The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
Luke 15: 20-24
So he got up and went to his father.
‘But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him.
‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
‘But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.
“When children feel genuinely loved, their whole world looks brighter. Their inner spirit is more secure and they are far more likely to reach their potential for good in the world.” (Dr. Gary Chapman)
Children long to know that they are loved unconditionally. Whether they perform well at school or not, make the sports team or not, even behave well or not, they need to know that they are accepted and valued. In fact, often negative behaviour is simply a child seeking attention and affection in the wrong ways. Author Tom Marshall reflects on years of talking to people about difficulties in forming close relationships: “I have lost count of the number of those who, looking back on their childhood, have said sadly, ‘I guess my parents loved me, in their own way, but I never felt it.’”
How do we genuinely, consistently and effectively communicate love to our children?
Most people who have got married in recent years will have read Gary Chapman’s book ‘The Five Love Languages’ to help them understand better how to connect with their spouse. Chapman shows that there are different ways we can express love to another person and that each of us responds better to one or two of these 'love languages' than to the other ones. However these insights can also be very helpful in recognising how our children feel and experience love in their heads and hearts.
Five ways to show love to our children are:
Words: Our words can express love powerfully. This might be through praise: “Well done, I am so proud of you,” or compliments: “You look so handsome/beautiful/cool today,” or affection: “I have loved you every single day of your life,” or encouragement, “I know you can do it.”
Time: When we set aside time to be with another person, we show them they matter. When we focus our attention exclusively on them, when we do something together with them, listen to what they are saying or watch what they are doing, we communicate that they are special to us. When we sit looking at our phones while they are trying to express something to us, we communicate something very different. Of course, we will all have times when we are busier and less available. Bill Johnson offers some wisdom here: “With prioritising kids, sometimes you have huge demands on the schedule that you can’t control, so you have to make it up where you can control.”
Touch: Physical affection demonstrates that we enjoy being close to that person. Touch can communicate welcome, support, care, consolation, and security all at once with a simple gesture. With our own little boy, there’s nothing he loves more than to cuddle his mummy and wrestle and play fight with his daddy.
Presents: A present is a tangible, visual symbol of our love. It shows the recipient that we were thinking of them when we chose the present and it will remind them of our love each time they look at it or use it. Although, we might not want to overdo gifts, especially with younger kids, who can begin to see them as a reward for everything and value them less and less.
Actions: When we do something for another person, when we show kindness to them, we demonstrate our love in practice.
Family time that is protected from interruptions tells our children at a deep level that we love them and that they matter to us. The actor Martin Clunes was interviewed by Michael Parkinson, who asked him why he didn’t accept a sought-after acting role he had been offered. He replied: “I’d have loved to take it but theatre happens at the wrong time of day.” He told Parkinson that he hated missing bath and bedtime with his two-year-old daughter. He continued, “Some things have to be sacred. Our work is supposed to serve us, not the other way round.”
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9.30 am, 11.30 am and 7.00 pm.