“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Prov 24:3-4). The wisdom part of building a spiritually healthy home is learning from and teaching God’s Word to our children. It is developing a faith focus in our family through reading the Bible together and serving Christ together. It is teaching and demonstrating to our kids biblical principles such as “love supersedes knowledge” and a hundred other counter-cultural ideas found in Scripture.
The understanding component of building our homes comes from paying attention; knowing our children. It is observing, thinking, being alert to danger, discovering your child’s personality, gifts, and inclinations. Putting the wisdom and understanding together leads to knowledge that brings the reward of “rare and beautiful treasures.” These treasures are not measured by financial or academic success, or any worldly benchmark. These riches are not based on IQ, money, or physical strength or beauty. These treasures are loving relationships and spiritual growth in our families as we grow up in the Lord together.
And the understanding piece of the parenting challenge thrives best in the soil of an affirming environment in your home. So let’s take off on our advertised topic of 29 ways to affirm your children.
#1 Create a positive, loving, and secure environment in your home. This may seem as obvious, generic, and general as Mom, baseball, and apple pie, but there is a specific intentionality to this goal. It starts with the two important messages we need to convey to our children. The first is the simple message, “I love you.” Simple to say; a challenge it put into action. Your message to your kids needs to be: “I love you. I love you more than you will ever know. You can never lose my love. You can’t do anything to make me withhold my love. I would chose you above all others. I love you.”
Why is this message so critical? When your children are assured of your love, they have the confidence to give themselves away in service to others. Think about your own love experience. My assurance of God’s love and acceptance frees me from being a prisoner to others thoughts and opinions about me. It frees me to give myself away in loving relationships. It allows me to unwrap and practice my spiritual gift without being timid. One of the many ministries of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to assure me of God’s love. “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5). When our children are assured of our love and assured of God’s love, they have a confidence to serve others without looking for love in all the wrong places.
The second message, wrapped in the first, that we need to convey is, “I am in charge.” Your message: “I am in charge. I demonstrate my love by taking charge. God has put me in charge. I am in charge because I am the mature one. I see the big picture, and I am learning from and leaning on the God who sees the eternal picture.” Children generally focus on the needs and wants of the moment. They want their desires met now. They need to know, beyond any doubt, that Mom and Dad are in charge.
Putting it all together, we have two messages we need to convey to our kids: I love you and I am in charge. These messages provide the balance between love and control in your home. And when these messages are lived out, you provide a positive (the power of affirmation), loving (I love you), and secure (I am in charge for your good) environment for relationships to grow.