We sometimes tend to think that what kids want are cool, material things that cost a lot, but what they really want, and need, is our time, attention and love.
Our days can get so busy that we can get to the end of the day and realize we fell short in each of these areas unless we are being very intentional in our parenting.
One way that our family takes time to be together, is by sitting down together for dinner each night. Even if it’s not until 7 or 8 pm (we’ve learned the key to the success of this is to be flexible each day), dinner is a time that we sit together without any outside distractions while we eat and talk about our days. We always begin that time with prayer. We make sure that conversations are uplifting and not filled with conflict or stress.
We have also been intentional in reading the Bible together as a family. Soul Exercises is a great resource if you are looking for some help in how to do that.
Some ways we set aside times to give attention to our kids are through yearly family vacations and celebrating birthdays. Daily, it is listening to what they are saying and remembering things they’ve said, participating in things they enjoy, and acting on spoken and non-spoken requests. We’ve found it’s very important to put our phones and computers away, so we are able to give our full attention.
Loving our kids is personal and intentional. Gary Chapman, Ph.D. and Ross Campbell MD wrote the well-known book, The 5 Love Languages of Children. They layout 5 ways that children feel loved; quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, and acts of service. We would often ask our kids to tell us what on that list makes them feel loved so that we love them in ways that they feel most loved.
At the end of the day, time, attention and love cost a lot but will last longer than any material thing on earth. If this is an area you’ve struggled with, it’s never too late to start! Start by asking Jesus for help. Your kids will appreciate these gifts more than anything else you could give.
Director of Never The Same Camp