When I first became a mom, I was shocked to discover the realization that God loved my children even more than I did. As much as I loved them—He loved them even more!
Of course, we, as parents, tell our children we love them, but how can we put actions to those words? Here are nine suggestions to show your kids how much they mean to you.
Spend time with them. Children equate love with the time spent with them. Whether you take your kids to the playground or just spend time snuggling, time spent is important. Other suggestions for family activities in our house include bike rides, throwing the softball around, and playing board or card games.
When my girls were toddlers, they loved playing with their toy horses. One day, I decided to sit on the floor and join them. Together, we developed a pretend “TV show” we called Horses. We made up a theme song that we all sang before the “show” started. I would then think of a topic—usually one with a good lesson tacked on the end. For example, in one “episode,” David (one of their favorite horses) struggled with being selfish. How did the other horses handle this? What did David learn in the end? With my daughters involved in the plot, it was always an adventure to see how the episode progressed.
Before long, Horses turned into a series. I had to chuckle because every time we played, each of my daughters would be the voice of just one horse each. “And, Mama, you are the voices for all of these!” I was then handed a pile of horses, both male and female, for which I would be the voices. I think I may have missed my calling as a voice-over artist.
My daughters have long since grown beyond Horses, but I have fond memories of playing something with them that meant so much and being able to stick in a few good lessons while we played.
These days some of our favorite ways to spend time together include having wonderful chats over lunch, playing sports together, and going on bike rides. For my oldest daughter, who is an aspiring author, we enjoy spending time together brainstorming, creating characters for our books, and bouncing plot ideas off each other.
For my youngest, we enjoy running 5k races together and heading to the hair salon for a “girls’ day”.
Pray with and for your children. Our family takes turns praying and when it’s my turn, I make it a point to be sure to add any of their concerns in my prayers. I assure my children that God hears each prayer request, whether big or small, and that He cares about the things that concern them. Now that my daughters are older, it has been wonderful to watch how those prayers have become habit and how their faith in the Lord has grown over the years.
Express gratitude. One of my favorite things to do is to express gratitude daily. For younger children, it can be something as simple as “Doodle, thank you for sharing that last cookie with your sister.” Or “Sunshine, I really appreciated how you had a servant’s heart today and your willingness to help me with the dishes.” For older children, add more details, such as, thanking them for making dinner for the family, taking on extra chores, or helping a sibling.
Leave a note. A special note tucked in as a bookmark in the book they’re reading is sure to remind them how much you love them. If your children attend school outside of home, stick a note in their lunchbox. It’s a guaranteed mood booster!
Read to them, even if they’re older. I began reading to my children when they were infants. As toddlers, there wasn’t a day that would go by when I wasn’t brought a stack of books including Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? A Little Girl After God’s Own Heart, Goodnight Moon, Snowmen at Night, and Little Whistle.
Even older children enjoy being read to from books such as devotions, stories from the Bible, and classics such as Little House on the Prairie.
Keep the lines of communication open. If you’re a parent, you know that children ask a gazillion questions. It’s important we take the time to answer those questions to the best of our ability and at an age-appropriate level. I have told my children since they could speak that they can ask me any question about anything, and that when they do, I give them my full attention.
One of the fun things we have implemented is to declare time for “chitty-chattys” whenever we are in the car doing errands. Some of our best moments, both when my girls were younger and when they were tweens and teens, has been to make it a habit to chat in the car.
It’s amazing to me the wonderful conversations that I have had the privilege to partake in during these times.
Surprise your child with something that means a lot to her. What about making their favorite meal for dinner? What about presenting your child with a small token gift, such as a book they’ve wanted to read?
Learn what makes your child feel loved. Take a minute and ask your children what are things you do that make them feel loved. Listen to their answers and then take their suggestions.
When my daughters were growing up and as I embarked on the incredible journey known as motherhood, I prayed daily that the Lord would guide me as I raised my tiny blessings for Him.
Now my daughters are young adults and I do miss those early days of motherhood. But nothing is more special than the close bond strengthened over the years. When we are deliberate in our parenting, the chances of those bonds enduring is that much stronger.
Portions of this post also appeared on Inspired Women Magazine.
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