Friday, February 13, 2009

Grace Based Parenting--Secure Love

*I posted earlier that Tim Kimmel says there are 3 inner driving needs of all children: need for security, need for significance and a need for strength. I want to go over what he says about secure love because "desiring to love your children and actually loving them in such a way that they develop a secure love of their own are two different things."

What is secure love? It's a love that is steady, strong and complete. As our children grow up, they'll have their sense of being loved tested. Bad things happen, unfortunately; someone they love breaks their heart, someone will betray their trust, they might get fired from a job, they may have a spouse or child who passes away (that one makes me cry...I can't bear the thought of my son hurting in that way). When life happens, our children need to be confident that they are loved...even if we are not there to physically tell/show them that we love them. We need to pass on to them the infinite love of God.

*It's possible to love your kids without them feeling loved because it's incomplete. They may feel like they have to compete for it or that they have to earn it.*

Dr. Kimmel defines love this way: "Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost." Love is an action--not a feeling. It's about our children's best interests, not ours. It's sometimes inconvenient and sometimes painful. We need to love them the way God loves us...even if they're unappreciative, even if they don't deserve it and even if it's costly to us.

Here are three things we can do to build an authentic, secure love for our children:
1. Accept them as they are.
OK, he's not saying to accept disrespect or deceit or anything like that. He's saying to accept them for the unique things that make them individuals. If your child doesn't like to play sports, if your child is slow moving, if they communicate in "teen" language, if they're emotional, loud, shy, etc., that's okay. That's who God made them to be. Sometimes our kids do things to annoy, frustrate, or embarrass us...that doesn't necessarily make what they're doing wrong. When we accept the unique characteristics of our children, we communicate the kind of acceptance that God has for us. This one really resonates with me. My son is quirky, unique and special. I don't want him to ever feel like I don't accept for the awesome person he is.

2. Be a loving and honoring family.
All children are important. Their opinions, time, concerns, space and ideas should be respected. It doesn't mean that there won't be disagreements or sibling rivalry in a home. There will be. But there will also be forgiveness and respect. This all starts with the way parents deal with each other, by the way. What kind of an example are we setting for our kids? Are we loving, honoring and respectful?

3. Give regular and generous helpings of affection.
God hard-wired our skin to our souls. We were designed to respond to affection. Children are especially responsive. Both genders need it from both parents. Even when they move into their teen years, they still need touch. (So don't go kissing your 16 year old son in front of all his friends...he might not like that! lol But when he's at home, give him a hug, put a hand on his shoulder, ruffle his hair, give him a playful punch on the arm.) This one definitely comes the easiest for me. I have no problem showing affection to my son. As a matter of fact, I can't get enough kisses and hugs from that little booger!

In closing, Dr. Kimmel mentions that we've all fallen short. We've all unnecessarily stolen joy from our children more times than we'd like to count. Thankfully, God forgives. We just need to ask for it. We can also ask Him to help us meet the inner driving needs of our kids. Oh, and we might also need to ask our children for forgiveness, as well.

As soon as I finish up chapter 4, I'll be back to discuss "a significant purpose."

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