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What Do Children Need?

There is a great deal of sorrow with what is happening with the world lately that is associated with killings. Terrorist groups murdering innocent people is one story, but what bothers me the most is the prevalent number of individuals committing suicide. What could have broken them so much that one day, they just decide to end their own life?

It is very amusing to watch how the society judge the situation based on the surface without digging deeper and knowing the reason behind a person’s brokenness. Sadly, I am no different from the society. At first I thought suicide is a mental issue or has something to do with the person’s inability to handle things.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked the scariest question any homeschool mom is dreading to answer, “When are you planning to enroll the kids to a regular school?” I was very quick to respond, “Until I find a good one. Because to be honest, even Christian schools are facing suicide controversies.” And I stopped there. At this point, I want to apologize to families who send their kids to regular schools as my answer might sound a little judgmental. I am really working on my answer every time people would ask me why homeschool. Homeschool or not, you are doing a great job!

As the person express his dismay about suicide, I got to ponder on the root cause why kids today are so troubled and gets easily depressed. If you have also watched the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why, you would agree with me that it isn’t because of the school or the friends.

If you are to ask any troubled individual today, whichever generation they belong to, their answer always go back to, “my parents weren’t there for me.”

I’ve been working very hard all day long the entire week so I can send you to a good college and give you this and that and you are telling me it is not enough? Says every parent I know.

Versus the family stage we call empty nest, where your kids leave you to start their own lives as adults, I would like to dedicate the rest of this blog to living an INTENTIONAL FULL NEST especially during their fundamental years of 0-9 years old where they needed to be taught and from 10-18 years old where they question all your teachings. The underlying question is, what do children need anyway?

Your Affirmation. My daughter loves getting confirmation from me. I will not deny the fact that I smile every time his Dad would tell her something and she would look at me first as if asking, “is that true, Mom?” Mike hates it! As if he is not credible enough to tell our kids what they should be doing. But of course I am not that bad of a mom who would take away the respect my husband needs from our kids. I always tell them that whatever Daddy says, that is what we should do. (Now that’s how you affirm your husband!)

I don’t know if you notice this especially with younger kids, every time they’re about to try something for the first time, they will always ask for your opinion. Is this safe, Mom? Does it taste good? Can I try doing that, Dad? Are your answers always either I don’t know or NO and when they do it their way or the other way around you burst into flames? One reason parents negate their child’s idea is because of fear. We are always afraid for them thinking hovering is the way to express our love as a parent. Another reason is the way we were brought up as well. We were once that child who is curious but was told to do otherwise so we pass it on from one generation to another.

Encourage your kids. Feed their curiosity so they won’t grow up being afraid to try and to fail and to get back up again. Raise strong willed, positive people who has so much stories to tell like I thank my Dad for letting me climb a tree when I was little because I was able to see how beautiful the world is from up there. And if they do something commendable, even if it’s something small, compliment them! Never be that parent who only sees his kid’s mistakes. Don’t take away their confidence.

Your Affection. When your kids are too little to understand words, they need to feel your touch. Filipinos are not huggers, that’s a fact! We are so conservative that even expressing our emotions to our loved ones are often misunderstood.

I thank God for having a husband who loves to touch. He is that father who hugs, kisses, tickles our kids all the time! We even have a nickname for it. Our kids need to feel secure and they need to know that there is no alternative to mommy and daddy’s affection. Remember they need to get this from you and not from someone else. The world will corrupt your child. Your arms should be that safe place where they would always go back to even when they have grown up, when they are tired or sad or lost or broken.

Your Wisdom. Just the other night, we had a small talk with our daughter about dating. Single people will eventually get married like mommy and daddy and build their own family. Talking to a 7 year old, you need to be specific like explaining what single means and of course the term every Filipino parent try to avoid “boyfriend/girlfriend”. We told her that you need to trust the Lord when it comes to giving you a suitable partner. I personally detest the idea of being okay to have a lot of relationships because a lot of people believe in trial and error, that you let fate decide who you will end up with. And of course, Mike and I have to apologize to our daughter for having a bad track record during our single days. As early as now, we encourage our daughter to pray to God to give what’s best for her. There is no fate, but a God who already wrote our destiny.

Do you speak to your kids as openly as possible? Many believe that wisdom is simply knowing it all, most specifically about prosperity. Wisdom is about everything in life. Remember how inquisitive little children are? Be wise in answering. If a parent is not careful, he will be the one who will lead his child astray. No matter how old your kids are today, teach them about the world before the world teaches them. More than your trust fund, pass on to them things that will never disappear— a skill, talent, hobby, values, beliefs.

Your Time. They say to always save the best for last. But this isn’t the easiest of them all. Time is free and the greatest investment parents can give to their child. Memories cling the most and are irreplaceable.

My Father in law used to serve in the military and would often beat himself up for being an absentee parent to his kids. My husband feels the other way. Because of his father’s job, he got to have marvelous adventures and an exciting childhood. Summer time for them means his dad flying them around different provinces and letting them experience what real childhood is supposed to be. And up to this day I’m extremely fascinated hearing stories about it.

Time with your kids are precious especially those of us who still have little ones. This is something I want to make single people understand as well, we can’t just trade family dinners over casual ones. Although I am also a believer of the once in a while me time or date with friends, I will always pick weekends spent on birthday parties and play dates more than anything. I don’t want to miss a milestone just because I am away. I want to be there on all of their life events. I want my kids to still need me (in spite of my whining) even when they’re older.

You know how much needy our kids are? If it’s getting dark in the day, it’s automatic for them to ask if Daddy is coming home soon— one of the reasons why my husband would usually turn down his colleagues for dinners. If he goes out (for no important reason) and our kids ask where Daddy is, I don’t think the response, Daddy went out with his friends instead of joining us for dinner tonight will show how much committed we are to parenting.

But don’t you worry friends, we’ll be with you when the empty nest hits.

Lastly, if you decide to give your kids your precious time, don’t be distracted. At this day and age, distractions are everywhere. Our careers, businesses, social media, television are just the few things that can easily take us away from our main role as parents. Don’t aim for just being physically present, set your heart, mind, and all senses to your kids. Put down the phone, take your vacation leaves and listen to what those little creatures has to say. They may be a handful right now but one day those hands of yours will be vacated.

So now you might ask, what does this have to do with terrorism or suicide? Parents, we are responsible for the upbringing of our kids. Not your maids, not the grandparents, not the teachers, not their friends, not the society. We have to be more intentional when it comes to parenting. Once you’ve make them feel that your love is enough for them, they don’t need to prove anything to the world.

What about those who don’t have parents or have bad ones or belong to a broken family? Do not lose heart! Our Heavenly Father, who created you will always supply you with his love and grace. Earthly parents will pass away but not Him and Jesus’ love for you is forever.

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Apparently, I am a bossy parent according to my daughter. She says I always boss them around, telling them what to do or not to do. I won’t even defend myself or anything. If that’s what she feels then maybe there is really something wrong with my parenting. Just to let you know, I am still a work in progress. We all are.

Psalm 127:3-5

3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
4 Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
5 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

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