Melanie Lenow: What Children Need, From Babies to Teens

When we first began to have children, I truly loved the birth through preschool years. I was confident in what I was doing and the calling God had on my life. Yes, there were stressful times, but overall, I was in control.

However, my kids continued to grow and soon the wheels started to fall off.

Naturally, the kids began to develop their own strong opinions, and outside activities and influences increased. It wasn’t long before I was questioning every aspect of parenting. Life seemed to be getting more complicated and I was overwhelmed.

Thankfully, a wise friend spoke truth into my life on a day when I was struggling the most. “Just go back to the basics of parenting,” she said.

After much prayer, I began to realize that what children need growing up doesn’t change that much. Our circumstances change and the world around us changes, but at the basic level, even teenagers still need a lot of what babies need.

Over time, we finally found a new groove through the elementary years and now are riding well through the pre-teen/middle school years. When I feel uncertain if I am giving my kids what they need, I go back to these basics:

Shower them with unconditional love through personal contact.

We constantly snuggle with babies. Before rest, after rest, reading time — they are always in our arms. Well, it’s hard to carry a 16-year-old in your arms, but the need for loving hugs doesn’t change.

When I was going through middle school and high school, I remember my mom waking me up by spending five to 10 minutes just talking to me about the day as she rubbed my back to wake me up. I knew we were usually hurried in the mornings, so one time I asked her why she took the time to do this. She wisely answered, “When you are awake, you are always moving, and we always have somewhere to be or something to do. Waking you up is the only time I get to sit down and love on you.”

Pre-teens and youth need genuine, loving touch just like they did when they were younger. Studies show that a good hug can calm negative emotions much better than a lecture or fighting. Make the effort some time in your day to rub your son’s back or play with your daughter’s hair. Give hugs freely. Those actions will go further to strengthen your relationship than you realize.

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Source: Baptist Press