It’s not always about what your children have, but rather about who you are teaching them to be. I spend a lot of time working with parents who are trying to get on the same page regarding their children’s behavior, school performance, social commitments and future decisions. All of these things are important and need time and attention given to them. However, often parents will give time, money and self to provide things that their kids want rather than what they need.
When I meet with parents for counseling, I find they usually end up sharing about their own childhood. I believe parents want their children to have opportunities that they themselves may not have had. Just about all of them say something like, “I just want my children to have more than I (we) did”. But what is it today that your children actually need from you?
I’ve rarely met someone who has all of the things they want in life that include feeling a sense of freedom, generosity and joy that permeates their daily life. Does it make you wonder if maybe we have more than we realize? Sometimes it feels like we have become lost among the cascade of influence that social media and our society has on us. We constantly feel like we don’t have enough or we need more because our culture tells us we need bigger and better of everything. Our children are products of that influence too. They constantly compare what they have or (especially) what they don’t have to their friends, classmates, and relatives. Just when you think you’ve accomplished one’s needs with the new sneakers your child begged for for months, suddenly, two days later, they’re not good enough. The classmate next to him just got a bigger, better, more expensive pair. Now he’s not satisfied again.
What if all your children needed from you was three things:
To be understood.
To be cared for.
To be loved.
If providing these three things to them strengthened their emotional awareness, self-identity and belief in who they are, I don’t think we as parents would be as concerned or focused with what they have, or more importantly, what they don’t have. Matthew 6:25 states: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” This is a good reminder of the difference between what we actually need versus what we want.
Give your children – and yourselves – things that we all need: understanding, care and an abundance of love.