To Love a Child

Birthdays are a magical time when you are a child, full of fun things to do, friends, gifts and of course cake! What joy a birthday brings to a child! However, as a parent, a child’s birthday brings different emotions. Emotions and thoughts that I wasn’t expecting. My eldest son just turned eight this week and as I was preparing for my son’s birthday, I was reminded of something. I was reminded that as he grows older, my time with him as a child is getting shorter. I now only have ten years until he turns eighteen. Ten years until my son is an adult. Ten years to train him in the way that he should go, ten years to love him right where’s he’s at, ten years to enjoy his childlike wonder, ten years to care for the one who made me a mom. I only have ten left.

How does a mom love her child best, especially when he only has a decade of childhood left? Time is running out and this mom wants to make the most of it! When you are a child, moving from one age to the next is nothing but exciting. Growing up I remember thinking; goodbye seven and hello eight and I can’t wait till I’m nine! Yet as a parent there seems to be a little grief cycle every time my child turns a year older. I as the parent am grieving the lose of my child’s seventh year because I know we will never get to experience that year of him again. Age eight and nine and ten will have it’s own adventures and joys. But a child is only five once, only six once, only seven once, never to return. So, while my son is saying good riddance to age seven, my momma heart is a little sad to see that season end. This is what it means to love a child – grieving the loss of each age as they grow one year older, while at the same time finding joy in the year ahead. But that’s not all. There is so much involved in loving a child.

What does it mean to love a child?

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

John 13:34-35

I’ve always thought the word disciple meant “follower of Jesus” and in a way it does. But what does the word disciple really mean? When I looked it up on, I was surprised to see the original Greek definitions of this word – disciple. The Greek word is mathētēs, which means a learner or pupil. This really stood out to me as a homeschool mom because my children are not just my children, they are also my students or my pupils. As I love and teach my children, can they see that I am not just their parent and teacher, but that I am also a student – a student of Jesus. In order to love our children well and in order to teach our children well, we must continue to be learners – seeking Jesus as our teacher. When we love our children, do they see that we are students of Jesus? I am a student of Jesus first before I am my child’s teacher.  

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18

There is so much to learn about love in scripture. Often times we apply these scriptures to marriage and friendship, but what about parenting? Would it not be just as wise to take what God’s word says on how we are to love and apply it to how we are to love our children?

Most moms have a birth story and love to share it. I myself do not have a birth story because both of my boys were adopted. But we do have a beautiful adoption story and I thank God for that! I do not have time to share our adoption story with you right now, but my main point here is that most moms know where and how their children were born or in our case adopted, and most moms love to share that story. With this thought in mind, read the following scripture verse.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:7-11

We are sharing our own birth story when we love others well. Not of human birth, but our story of rebirth into the family of God. Moms love to share their birth stories, but did you know that our heavenly father loves to brag about our birth stories too?! And he creatively uses our actions of love to show it. So when you love your child well, you are showing them your own birth story – that you have been born of God and that you know God. But we cannot love our children out of our own strength, on our own. We love because God first loved us! It is out of God’s love for us that we are able to love our child well. When we seek God first, he will help us to be more patient, kind, gentle, loving with our children. We need to be willing to ask our heavenly father for help (in prayer) in loving our kids the same way he loves us. 

God is our refuge and strength, an everpresent help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

Parenting can feel like a storm at times, but God is our refuge and strength, we can always ask him for help because He is always present. What does it mean to love a child? I believe God is asking me to be present and helpful with my children just like he is present and helpful with me. One way I like to present with my children is through their interest. My boys love sports! I know very little about sports so I can’t be very helpful in this area, but I can be present, cheering them on at their games and encouraging my children in the activities they are good at.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:1-4

To love a child means looking into their interests. Become a student of your child, pay attention to what they enjoy doing, what they are good at, what they want to explore, rather than pushing your own interests upon them. Maybe they enjoy the same activities you do and if so – great! But maybe they want to explore other things too and if so, explore those things right alongside them. Like I said, I know very little when it comes to sports, and I never played sports when I was a kid. But here I am exploring basketball, baseball, football and soccer with my children because that is what they love. I am learning to love sports, not because I love sports but because the ones I love are playing. I want to know more about basketball because a child I love is playing basketball, I want to know more about baseball because a child I love is playing baseball. I don’t love baseball, I love my child, and to love my child means to love the things he loves.

This is what it means to love a child.

One Comment

  1. Well said, Bethany, thank you for this article. I love your thoughts about as a parent we grieve as they get each year older, this is so true. I remember learning to love baseball with one of my sons, because he loved it as well. Good reminder about how to parent our children. Thank you

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