Children add something so special to this season. I have precious childhood memories of Christmas. How precious are the memories, even more so, of our own children and Christmas. Now the grandchildren. As I reflect on Christmases past and present, I wonder, have we been caught up in the materialism of our age, buying our children’s happiness, with gifts quickly forgotten? Do we fail to devote as much joy, expense, and effort in giving the gifts that last a lifetime? So here is my suggested list of gifts for parents to give to their children. A list for grandparents to give. Give these gifts now and throughout the year. You do not need a check, cash, or plastic to buy them. You simply need all of your heart, all you mind, all your soul, and all your strength.
Gift one–LOVE! I know, this is obvious, or is it? Jesus said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). “As I have loved you,” the love seen on the cross. That is what your children need from you. Unselfish–doing what will help your children grow up with self-respect, knowing they are loved, learning to respect others, developing faith in Christ. Love is unselfish. Unconditional–treating my children with kindness and goodness, patience, forgiveness, compassion, humility, without concern as to how pretty or athletic or smart they are. Love is unconditional.
Gift two–RESPECT! You must be aware of the importance of each of your children as individuals. Respect means treating your children with every courtesy and consideration you give to others. They are children. They are not inferior creatures. Children are not your play things or pets. So to give respect you must be considerate of their feelings and their emotions. Do not belittle them. Encourage them.
Gift three–ACCEPTANCE! God’s love is seen in this–”while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). God accepts you where you are, as you are. He patiently bears with you, teaching you, encouraging you, helping you become what you can be. Every child is different than the rest. They are different in gender, age, maturity, personality, interests, the rate of physical, mental and spiritual growth. One never gets into trouble. Another gets into trouble all the time. Each one needs to know she is accepted for who she is. “If only you were like your brother!” She is not her brother. She needs you to accept her where she is, as she is. Just as God accepts you.
Gift four–LISTENING! Love, respect, and acceptance, are all present or are all absent in the way you listen to your children. Listen, get on your child’s eye-level. Listen in order to hear. Listen to understand. Listen to be able to patiently respond. Listen, hear your child’s concerns. Respect his feelings. Listen through. Do not interrupt.
Gift five–TIME! Time with your children. Time–sitting down at the supper table, talking, laughing, listening, not rushing. Time–going on a hike, playing a board game, throwing a ball. Time–as a family working together around the house, playing together, worshiping God together. Time–listening, talking. Time–when you place being with your children ahead of things you would rather be doing. Time–interacting with your children.
Gift six–DISCIPLINE! “The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:12). It is so easy to see discipline only as punishment. Discipline is much more. Discipline is all that is involved in teaching and guiding your children. The goal of discipline is to lead your children into adulthood as people who are able to make wise choices. The goal is to lead them to living responsibly in relationships with others.
Gift seven–FAITH! The most valuable gift to give your children is faith in Jesus Christ. Read the Bible and Bible stories to them. Pray together. Sing songs of faith. Worship God together. Purposely live a godly life before your children. Be an example of following Christ. Allow your children to see Christ in you.
A good list. Oh, a check or cash or plastic list is so much easier. No, the list above is the list, the good list. Lord, help us find these gifts within our hearts. Lord, help us to give them abundantly.