Do our children know we love them?


by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Children psychoanalyze everything we do as parents, and they are always watching. The atmosphere of the home becomes a barometer that feeds or stifles their suspicions.

The adage, trust but verify, certainly applies. We tell our children that we love them, but our actions have greater power than words. Our investments matter more than our currency.

Children are fearful in a world saturated with broken homes because they see the emotional scars of their classmates and they fear being rejected.

Harsh words pierce the psyches of our kids and can do long-term damage. Model Christ’s heart by showing them unconditional love (John 3:16; Romans 6:5-11).

Assure them that they will never stop being loved, no matter what they do. When they do something wrong, that behavior is wrong, not them. Never call them a bad child. That is like a knife-blade.

Be firm against misbehavior but gentle with their hearts. Help children see that they will make mistakes because that is the nature of humanity (Romans 3:23). If we cannot avoid making mistakes, we cannot expect them to do so.

As a result, when they do something wrong, it is separate from their person. We still love them as much as we ever did. If they mess up their room, criticize their behavior, not them.

Reinforce this distinction to them as they grow older so it becomes portable. Be sincere and open with them.

If they know they will be valued no matter what, they will hopefully feel safe enough to be their very best and pass this on to their children.

By utilizing unconditional love, learned from Christ, we have built a legacy of grace from above and we have changed a part of the world (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6).

To Be Known, Yet Loved

Could these be some video clips from your neighborhood? Surrounded by her shopping treasures, she could not take her eyes off of her new picture perfect manicure and pedicure. She was feeling great for the moment. Buried deep beneath a wave of consumerism induced euphoria glimmered the thought, “now they will have to like me.”

From around the corner, a husband and businessman drove home. While his eyes guided him home, his mind wandered far way to a coworker. “She is just so beautiful.” Slowly he traced the shape of her face and smile in his mind.

Several houses down, quietly she sat slumped in the darkness of her curtain entombed bedroom as an endless tape played over and over in her head. Deep and powerful feelings welled up into tears which slowly wandered down her cheeks.

Across the street, a young man felt the terrible, crushing power of self-loathing. He kept asking himself, “Why can’t I be better?”

Is such a neighborhood rare? What would a tell-all video of your life look like? What low points would you want deleted?

It is sobering to realize God has watched every moment of our life’s video tape. Not just our bodily behavior, our thoughts have also lain naked before his gaze. So perhaps it seems all the more astounding that he can love us. It is here we discover unconditional love.

If you have never felt unconditional love before, consider this. God knows who you are. He knows the fears. He knows the failures. He knows the insecurity and doubts. Yet, God loves you, not because you performed well, not because you are better than others, not because you are popular, rich, dependable, intelligent or fun to be with. He loves you because you are his child who has been made in his image.

God’s love for you is much greater than just a feeling. While we were guilt-ridden, undeserving, and an enemy, love made a commitment-decision. God chose to act in the only way possible for us to be healed, forgiven, and granted life. Through Jesus’ death, God offers us unconditional love.

Many people eek out lives in quiet desperation, longing to be truly loved. We already have been loved. When we have known what it is to be truly loved, we can become equipped to love ourselves as we ought and then pass it on.

“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if in this manner God loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10,11).

Postscript: Through Jesus’ death, God offers us unconditional love. For those who reject his unconditional gift to be declared righteous, God’s love will be powerless to save them from his righteous judgment.