So much of the love in our kids' lives is conditional. It's based on how well they behave or how well they fit into a group or even how good they are at a sport. Kids are smart. They see how much more attention and adoration the star player on the team gets vs. the kid who is just learning to play.
Kids who know that they are loved, that they have value beyond how they perform are ready to face whatever the world throws at them. Our job is to make sure our children know that they are loved. They need to know that not only is God's love not conditional, our love is not conditional.
I was lucky. I can't remember a time when I didn't know that my parents loved me and that God loved me. Never in my life have a questioned those two things. They are the foundation of my faith and my life. To me, those two things are simply facts. They are as true fact that the earth rotates aroundthe sun.
Many of you may not have grown up in homes where those truths were taught. Don't make that mistake with your kids. Ground them in the love of God and your love so that they never have to doubt that they are loved and valuable.
- Tell your children that you love them and that God loves them. Talk about how much you love them. Talk about the qualities of God's love. Psalm 13:5 tells us that God's love is unfailing. Ephesians 3:17-19 talks about how great God's love is. It says "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Share these verses with your kids so that they can begin to comprehend how amazing God's love is.
- Ask your kids what they would give up because they love someone. Start small. Ask them if they would give up their dessert because they love someone. Move on to a favorite toy or stuffed animal. Keep upping the ante until your child says no. Talk about how God loved us so much that He was willing to give up His son. Remind your children how amazing it is that God would love us that much.
- When you discipline your kids, always remember to do it in a manner that doesn't cause them to question your love for them. This means taking anger out of the equation. Don't discipline your kids when you're angry. Walk away for a few minutes, then deal with the situation. When you remove anger from the situation it's easier for your kids to understand that you love them, but you don't like their actions -- just like God deals with our sin.
- Find out your child's love language and implement it. Read "The Five Love Languages of Children" by Gary Chapman and begin speaking your child's love language.