Did you know that your children have 3 driving inner needs? Those needs are Security, Significance and Strength. It’s our job as parents to meet these needs to ensure that we are raising healthy and whole human beings. These needs aren’t as obvious as the physical needs of oxygen, water, food, shelter and sleep but are nonetheless very important to our children’s development. If you have any doubt to the validity of this claim look no further than cults, gangs or radical religious sects. Those environments meet these needs that your children are so desperately looking to fulfill in a very unhealthy way. I would suggest that we work hard to fill these needs in our children within our family dynamic so that they aren’t tempted to go to such drastic and unhealthy measures.
I will break this down into 3 different blogs over the next few weeks, each blog focusing on one of the three needs. We’ll start today with Security. We can meet the need of Security by giving the gift of Love.
The first step to meeting our children’s needs for security is to extend a secure love to them. A love that can’t be earned or lost. A love that isn’t weighed against their actions or attitudes but celebrates the fact that they are alive and with us. When I look at my children I swell with pride, joy and love. Sometimes it feels like my heart is going to explode because I love them so much. Even with that being the case sometimes they annoy me so much that my head might explode. It’s my job as their father to make sure that they understand more about my love for them than how much they can annoy me. That means that sometimes I just need to get over myself and my own self importance. I need to realize that I have a job to love them unconditionally to make sure that they are equipped with no doubts about how much they mean to me.
This secure love must also be rooted in grace, understanding and support for who our children are as individuals. We certainly have a say in how we choose to raise our children and certain avenues we wish to take them but we cannot decide exactly who or how they will be individually. Each and every person on this planet is unique…your kids are no different. We have to make sure that we aren’t making them jump through our specific hoops to gain access to our love. We must guard them to make sure that we aren’t smothering them with our expectations surrounding who or how they should be. We should celebrate their uniqueness and look for healthy ways to develop it.
Secure love should also be reinforced by us, in word and deed, often. We all know that we love our kids. That love is why we work so hard, try so hard and sometimes it’s why we get so upset with them…because we just want whats best for them. But the sad truth is that those things don’t always translate as love to our children. They aren’t as aware of the sacrificial nature of love as we are. Many of our kids lack the life experience to fully understand that part of it so they need to be told outright and often how we feel. They also need your touch and embrace. There is power in hugs and snuggles! Studies have shown that hugs can actually lower blood pressure, alleviate fears around death and dying, improve overall heart health, overcome feelings of despair and loneliness as well as boost our immune systems. So never let your love for them be a secret.
Secure Love makes sure that your words are backed up by your actions. Don’t be the Dad that says all the right things but only does a few of them. Loving your children as a parent is hard work. We are constantly confronted with situations that are annoying, infuriating and down right scary for us….and we are the ones with the experience and wisdom to handle them. Imagine what our children go through when faced with these things. We have to make sure that we act and make decisions in Love. Sometimes that means doing fun things that make them smile and laugh and sometimes it means making decisions that make them yell and cry because they don’t understand them yet. We have to constantly balance our focus for today and for the future…but our Love should rule both.
The last thing that I’ll mention here is that children need strong boundaries and relevant rules. It’s our job as parents to create life maps for them to follow to become healthy, mature adults ready to take on this wild world that we live in. If “X” marks the spot where healthy, mature and well-adjusted adulthood is found then we should plot a course that gets them there and help them steer clear of the dangers found on the journey while giving them room to explore. Some parents just hand their kids a blank piece of paper with an “X” marking some spot, somewhere with no real emphasis on finding it. This will lead to great exploration but will leave your children frustrated by the lack of a destination. Other parents create a map that plots the course they deem correct so strictly and warn of the dire consequences of getting off track while trying find the “X” that they paralyze their children’s minds. A child that has only known one way and one option will not be able to cope when he/she finds themselves off course. Or worse yet they will knowingly enter a wilderness they were never prepared for just in spite. I would suggest a map that clearly defines multiple paths to the “X” and many trails between them in case they get lost or decide to test another. There is no harm in marking what you think the best path is but some freedom should be encouraged. The map should clearly mark the boundaries though. There are roads in which we can not allow them to take. Some paths that lead to their own ruin that our love can’t endorse or tolerate. These paths and the dangers along them should be clearly defined and there should be clear consequences applied by you to safeguard them from the consequences that lay further down the path. A secure love will be the compass that serves as a tool that ensures that they are never lost. A secure love is as reliable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. It is the ultimate survival guide.
I hope this helps give you an idea of how to meet your children’s need for Security by giving them the gift of a secure love. Next week we will take a look at how to meet our children’s need for Significance.
LIGHT THE TORCH AND LEAD THE WAY!