Links Daily Devotional

For the Children

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.] (Colossians 3:21, Amplified)

I still remember my first 9-hole tournament when I was 10 years old. I had a red and white bag with white fluffy head covers, and I shot 63 to win my first trophy. This small accomplishment awakened my competitive spirit. My parents encouraged me to work hard and gave me opportunities to play, but they were never overbearing or controlling.

Sadly, many other young golfers I knew experienced emotional strain because of overzealous parents. There was no room for mistakes, which led to frustration and the feeling they could never measure up.

Even though I do not have my own children, I understand being a parent comes with great responsibility. The Scriptures tell us we are to “train a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV). This consists of teaching a child the essentials, like Scripture memory, prayer, and the difference between right and wrong.

The way we train our children is just as important as to what we teach them. Paul warned his readers (us!) in the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians not to provoke, irritate or emotionally strain our children, lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. “Do not break their spirit.” It’s heartbreaking that children all over the world are experiencing this kind of pain.

All children have God-given needs and longings which are to be provided for by caring and loving relationships with parents and other significant adults. Many of these needs and longings include:

– Basic care of food, water, and clothing
– Unconditional love and acceptance
– A sense of belonging
– Safe and loving touch
– A safe and secure environment
– Attention, assurance, and praise
– Repeated messages that they are important, unique, and special
– Opportunities to learn without punishment or pressure
– An avenue to fellowship with God
– Permission to feel and express
– Play
(Adapted from Open Hearts Ministry’s Journey Guide)

Children are not adults in little bodies; they are innocent, trusting, naïve, and dependent upon us. In the frenzy of our busy schedules, it’s easy to forget our children need consistent love and protection. They need to be appreciated, cherished, delighted in, enjoyed, and adored. When core longings go unmet, children are left feeling empty and their trust in their parents’ care is shattered.

When my sister started having kids, I decided I wanted to be available and to invest in her children as if they were my own. Over the last 11 years I have made sacrifices to develop relationships with my nieces and nephew. I spoil them, but the best gifts are my presence, my kindness, and my love. I want to consistently show up, reinforce how unique and special they are, listen, and make sure they know how much Jesus loves them.

My nephew said recently, “I love it when you put your arm around me.” My heart melted and I recognized how God is blessing us both.

Tracy Hanson

November 28, 2011

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