The most important thing your child needs to hear from you

We all love our kids, but showing that love is not always easy.  Parenting that is grounded in our Christianity is also not easy.

Here is a question to consider:  What are the defining characteristics of how God parents us, as His children?   Based on your own experiences in life, I am sure there are many different answers.  But one thing is certain; God loves us.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8 NIV)

As a child of God, we are eager to receive His love and forgiveness at all times, even when we have not behaved as we should have.  Our children feel the same way; they are eager for our unconditional love.  Do we give our love away as freely to our kids as God gives it to us?

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I was thinking about this recently in relation to the song Reckless Love by Cory Asbury.  Here are some powerful images that the song uses to describe how God fights for us with His love…

There’s no shadow You won’t light up

Mountain You won’t climb up

Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down

Lie You won’t tear down

Coming after me

Do our kids feel that way about us?

We eagerly accept that God loves us no matter what.  Our kids, likewise, need to know that we love them no matter what.  They need to know that we will climb mountains for them, sacrifice for them, stand up for them, and help them tear down lies that they are believing about themselves. This is true for children of any age, but my current perspective is as a parent of older kids.

Here is an example of what not to do, that I am not proud to share.  When my son was in high school, there was one particular season of life when things were not going well.  In fact, I was so frustrated during this time, that I shared my frustrations very openly with other parents on many occasions.  In retrospect, it looked a whole lot like gossip.  I gossiped about my own son and basically tore him down in front of others because I was so frustrated.  That is not reckless love…that’s just reckless.

I am not suggesting that we always have to pretend everything is perfect, especially with our very close and mature Christian friends, but sharing in our parenting struggles vs. tearing down our kids behind their backs are two very different things.

It was important for me to take a step back and intentionally refrain from this kind of speech about my son.  I had to thoughtfully and intentionally talk more positively about him in front of others.  I then needed to translate that into talking more positively to him.

I have heard it said that we are to share the good news of our faith with others and, when necessary, use words.  Demonstration, behaviors, and actions speak louder than words ever can.  If we say we love our children but don’t show it, it will be hard for them to experience the true depth of our love for them.

Consider these additional lyrics from Reckless Love, by Cory Asbury:

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me

You have been so, so good to me

When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me

You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Are there times when our children feel like our foes?  Probably.  Does our love fight for them in those times?  Are we good to them and kind to them when they don’t “deserve it?”  Does God love us when we don’t “deserve it?” He certainly does!

God loves us unconditionally.  God is a Good, Good Father (to reference another song).  In fact, He is a perfect Father.  We cannot be perfect parents; there is no such thing.  But just because we can’t reach “perfect parenting” status, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to improve. I mean, just because you’re not going to hit a home run in every at bat doesn’t mean you don’t swing the bat!

Here is a different example that I’m not ashamed to share.  Recently, I moved that same son of mine to a college almost 2,000 miles away.  On the Sunday night before I was leaving him there, we said our goodbyes and he settled into his new place.  An hour or so later, I sent him a text. Here is the interchange that we shared:

Me: Just so you know, I am ALREADY SUPER-PROUD of you for all you have accomplished: Following God here, being the great person you are and the man of God that you are. You don’t have to earn that from me, or my love or approval. You already have it! I believe in you 100% and sorry for the times I haven’t shown that.  Have a great first day.  I love you and will miss you but I am totally stoked that you’re here!

My son: Completely understand and really appreciate everything more than you even know–going to do big things and all because of the support from you guys and the way you have raised me into the man I am becoming. Wouldn’t be where I am without you.  Love you!

The purpose of sharing that is not to point attention to me, it is to give encouragement to you!  Sometimes, you don’t find out until later how much impact you are having, as you share your faith in God and unconditional love with your child as best you can.  Know that you are doing better than you think you are!  Know that it is sinking in, even when it looks like it isn’t!

I am encouraging all of us to pause, pray, and experience how much God truly loves us as His children.   And then let’s give our children that same experience by sharing our overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love with them!

Now read this: Is it hard to trust God with your kids?

Brian Goslee is an author, speaker, and founder of Changed Through Faith Ministries . Their mission is to help families grow closer to God and each other, using fun and relevant faith-infused events and resources. Brian’s life has been radically changed through active faith in Christ and he has a heart for helping others experience this in their lives.


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