Parenting Styles

A Secure Love

Saying that we love our children and doing certain things that communicate love isn’t enough. We’ve got to love them in the way that God loves us–when they’re unappreciative, when they don’t deserve it, when it’s inconvenient, when it is costly to us, even when it’s painful.

There are three things that, done consistently, have a way of giving your children a sense of security that keeps them from doubting. It minimizes their need to search for the shallow love that the world system offers. It builds an authentic love in their hearts that speaks to them long after we are out of the picture.

1. Children feel secure when they know they are accepted as they are. Let me qualify this before we clarify it. There are attitudes our children might develop that we never have to accept. Selfishness, disrespect, deceit, and other wrong behavior does not have to be condoned or tolerated.

The “acceptance” I’m talking about is for those things that are part of our children’s personal makeup. These are the unique things that make them individuals–the emotional, intellectual, and physical DNA. These are also the things that have no moral problems affixed to them. Many of our kids do things that annoy, frustrate, or embarrass us, but they are not wrong.

Every time we point these things out, we tell them that they don’t measure up. This builds a foundation of insecurity in them.

Boys are often berated because they are noisy, messy, or aggressive. Girls are often criticized for being too emotional, picky, or overly sensitive. Some kids are criticized for being slow, forgetful, or inquisitive, or for saying whatever pops into their heads. Some boys don’t care for sports. Some girls don’t like to play house.

Kids have always had their own way of communicating, their unique style of clothes and hair, and distinctive music. They go through awkward times where they don’t think they’re attractive, smart, or interesting.

What is key in all of this is that a parent should communicate nothing but acceptance for the unique characteristics of their children.

When they do that, a child senses the kind of acceptance that God has for us in our uniqueness.

Kids inside homes where non-moral issues are elevated to a level of big problems don’t get to experience the kind of acceptance that makes a heart feel securely loved. Instead they live with a barrage of nitpicking criticism, receiving put-downs because they are curious, anxious, excited, helpless, carefree, or absent-minded.

When we receive our children as they are, we reflect the kind of love that God has for them. It’s the kind of love that will carry them through the good times and the bad times for the rest of their lives.

2. Children feel secure when they know they are affiliated with a loving and honoring family. Homes of honor see the other person’s time, their gifts, their uniqueness, and their dreams as gifts to be cherished and stewarded. Homes of honor still have room for sibling rivalry. Homes of honor occasionally entertain arguments and disappointments, but for the most part, these homes give children a deep sense of being loved in a secure environment.

All children are important, along with their opinions and concerns. Their time is respected, their ideas are respected, their space is respected, and their vulnerabilities are respected. There is a present-tense commitment to making each day an asset that builds on the day before.

The best way to see this become a reality among children is to make it the way parents deal with each other. Homes of honor understand forgiveness, they are committed to virtue, and they place high value on every individual in the circle.

Kids who live in a home where honor for each other rules the day grow up to be children with secure tucked safely into their hearts.

3. Children feel secure love when they receive regular and generous helpings of affection. Why is it that when someone you love scratches your back, it always feels better than when you scratch your back yourself? Allow me to let you in on a secret. God has hard-wired our skin to our souls. Somehow, He saw fit to configure our outer covering to be one of the greatest tools for transferring a sense of secure love.

Everyone was designed to respond to affection. With rare exceptions, children are especially responsive to meaningful, tender touch. The hugs and kisses they receive from their parents from the moment they are born create a reservoir of security in their hearts.

Both genders need it from both parents. Sons and daughters fare far better if they receive plenty of lap time from their moms and dads. They sleep better at night when their parents have stopped by their rooms to tell them how much they love them, to pray over them, and to kiss them good night.

And that type of parental love shouldn’t stop as they move into the teenage years. While they might be self-conscious about receiving affection from you in front of their friends, they still need meaningful touch. It might be a hand on their shoulder, a playful punch on the arm, or some wrestling in the pool. They still need touch, and deep down in their hearts, they want it. They want to know that someone isn’t ashamed or afraid to touch them.

It’s a crucial gift they need at a time in their lives when many feel unattractive and untouchable.

Healthy, meaningful touch toward our sons and daughters makes it easy for them to give and receive affection as adults. It also gives them a clear sense of the counterfeit that masquerades as affection. It helps them to transfer the legacy of love they have received from you to the next generation in your family tree.

If they’re forming a line for parents who have fallen short, and you feel that you should be in it, you’ll have to get in line behind me. We’ve all fallen short. We’ve stolen our children’s joy unnecessarily more times than we’d like to count. We’ve turned non-issues into crises. We’ve sculpted molehills into mountains. We’ve reached inside our children’s hearts and pinched them simply because we could.

You might need to ask your children’s forgiveness. You need to let them know that you recognize you’ve failed them, that you’ve hurt them, and that at times you’ve stolen their joy. Be specific. Even if you have to go back years, let them know that you know you were wrong. It doesn’t make you smaller in their eyes. In your humble contrition, you will demonstrate something they desperately need if they want to have a love that is secure–grace.

And don’t be surprised if you find yourself overwhelmed with the urge to offer acceptance, affiliation, and affection to your children on a daily basis. These are three gifts that keep on giving…long after you are gone.

Used with permission from Grace Based Parenting

By: Tim Kimmel

iMOM Contributor

Dr. Tim Kimmel has reached millions of parents with his message of building strong families.

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  • Worried mom

    This is a great article. More needs to be done about the easy access kids have to porn. You never hear about this scary epidemic on the news. We tell kids “don’t do drugs” and “don’t text and drive” which are equally important, but I believe there needs to be a campaign more widely advertised to protect our children from online porn. I have restrictions set on my 13 year old sons phone and only I know the code. I have his internet search settings on so he can’t access adult websites. He doesn’t like the restrictions but to me it’s necessary. I’m so afraid of what will happen with this generation of kids with iPhones and tablets etc whose parents haven’t set any restrictions on them.

  • drrichardnorris

    Every parent needs to be vigilant if they truly care about the growth and development of their kids. We also need to be engaged with our kids daily life including their friends etc.

    I cannot fathom how some people see porn as okay when it causes so much harm in marriages and denigrates intimacy between man and a woman into something purely physical not to mention the men and women who are lured into the industry.

    Thanks for reminding me to pray about this for my kids, my family and society as a whole.

  • Wife

    Its overwhelming how vigilant we have to be and discouraging trying to keep up. Technology is changing so fast as a working mom I am not able to keep up with the many ways kids can go around the blocks put in place.
    I know that throwing away all the technology is not the answer, but sometimes I’m tempted.
    I feel like I need constant advice in the many areas I need to watch out for. I don’t have cable tv, but I have netflix, and when placing restrictions, I found some of my teenagers just went around me and visit websites that show all the tv shows that I would not allow in my home. I can’t keep up. That avenue is worst then having the cable stream through your living room. I shut off the internet in my home when I go to bed to eliminate internet browsing at night when everyone’s asleep. That helps. Even my teenager who has openly confess struggling with porn admits that was something he needed however what more can I do when its open all around them any hour of the day, by anyone in their lives.
    This is really a problem.

    • Janette

      I disagree with you on throwing away technology isn’t the answer. I think a nice cheap flip phone is good enough for any kid. If homework is a concern, there’s always the library. Sometimes you have to be a little “extreme”.. but I don’t even consider this extreme. Addictions to technology and pornography are a big deal. If your kids were drug addicts you wouldn’t say that throwing away drugs in the house were extreme. You have to do what’s really in the best interest of your kids.

  • Tina Davis

    One of the best things I have found to share with your boys is session #2 of Andy Stanleys – New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating. It is available free as a download to view and listen to through his ministry. It says that when you view pornography you are going to school. You are being taught that 1. A real woman’s body is not enough 2. Your wife’s body is not enough and 3. that one body is not enough – it is powerful and one of the best teachings to explain the damage that pornography will do long term.

  • Becky

    I would love to see a follow-up article to this that would lay out methods for how to set up protections on phones/computers/tablets/Tvs. Something in a step-by-step format would be extremely helpful.

    • Wife

      That’s a great idea, I would love to see that too. My kids are smarter then me when comes to technology . I need help.