From a material standpoint, our children live a very comfortable lifestyle but they act like they are miserable. Did we miss something major in our parenting plan?
You know, in our modern economy, it’s real easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the way you raise kids and give them a great childhood is you put them in a beautiful setting, you give them a lot of creature comforts, a lot of amenities.
But you know what? That has never been the key to really bringing the best out of a child.
There’s nothing wrong with it, in and of itself, but it will not produce joy and peace and comfort and excitement in a child. It will not produce a civility among the kids. No, there is something deeper—deeper of the heart.
My wife and I found that when we were able to isolate the real true needs of a child’s heart, and have a deliberate plan to meet them, boy, life got a lot better.
I want to basically give you three things that are core to how children are hardwired.
Every child, for instance, comes in this world with a driving inner need for security. It doesn’t matter who they are, they all want to know that they are secure. That’s why when they were first born, we wrap them up like a little burrito, you know, we carry them around. We swaddle them and we cuddle them a lot, because that’s very important they know the womb they were in is being transferred on the outside to people who are going to still keep them very safe.
So, security is very important.
And then significance is very important. They have this driving need to know that deep down inside they are valuable, they have innate worth.
And then the third thing they need to know is they are strong, they are sufficient, they have what it takes to move into the future.
Those are the things that drive every child’s heart. Now, if you don’t know what they are, you can’t meet them. But even if you know what they are, you have got to have a plan to meet them. What I want to do is I want to add a word to each one of those, and give you kind of a template for meeting these three driving inner needs.
When it comes to security, what you want to do is give them a secure love, a love that they know is going to be there all the time, that you don’t back down from that. One of the ways you do that is you affirm them. You give them a lot of attention.
When it comes to significance, you want to give them a significant purpose in life. You see, kids don’t want to live meaningless, empty lives. You’ve got to give them something to live for. I think when you give them the idea of living life for something bigger than life, by the way you live your life, that you live your life for others—you don’t live your life just for yourself and everything you can get out of it, but you live your life for others—you are showing them that there is something more to this whole thing. That gives them a great sense of incredible value, that they are making a contribution to the bigger picture of life.
The third thing is, when it comes to strength, you want to give them a strong hope. They need to know that they can move into the future, and not be frightened by what’s waiting out there. Now, we don’t know what’s waiting out there, but one thing we have going for us as parents is we have already been through where they are, and we are already where they are going. And so, we have some ideas of what we can do.
So, we can come along and help them identify their skill set and help build disciplines into their life and character into their life. And in the process, they realize, “My mom and my dad are working overtime to make sure that when I finally become an adult, I have built into me all the stuff I need to make it.”
You know, when you communicate that to them, not just by the words you say, but the choices you are making—that you know that that child needs to have that secure love, that significant purpose, that strong hope, and you are deliberate about it—it’s amazing how suddenly the whole temperature in the house changes, and a great level of appreciation goes up and a lot of anxiety goes down.
You can do this. Whether you are a single mom, a single dad, a couple—it doesn’t matter—give your kids a secure love, a significant purpose, and strong hope.
For more about meeting your child’s inner needs and connecting to their hearts we recommend: Grace Based Parenting, by Dr. Tim Kimmel