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Helping Our Children Feel Secure in a Parent's Love
Discover the power of parental validation
I've never auditioned for a school play, but my kids have.
I’ve witnessed the stress of knowing how well you need to perform to get the role you want.
You wonder if there will even be a part to play.
What Paul says to his spiritual son Timothy about “the prophecies previously made about you” is instructive for parents today.
Paul has witnessed God’s work in Timothy’s life and is now validating Timothy in much the same way God the Father validated Jesus in Matthew 17:5, saying, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”
As the Father had the lead role for Jesus to play, Paul wants Timothy to know that God has a role for him to play in God’s kingdom, too. This is what fathers are to do for our children. We validate them by calling out the glory of the unique gifting endowed upon them by God.
Whether we see artistic talents, an interest in animals, an aptitude for words or mathematics. Maybe they exhibit generosity or kindness. Whatever makes them unique, we can talk about these things not merely as talents or virtues, but as gifts from God — aspects of their unique design that will be part of the role they will play in the Kingdom.
They each have parts to play. But different roles.
One may be assigned a seemingly more prominent role than someone else. There are megachurches out there with thousands in attendance today. Am I less valuable in the Kingdom because I don’t preach to thousands?
You see, we need to recognize that every role is important, valuable, and necessary in God’s kingdom, whether we serve the King as a preacher, a bank teller, a mechanic, a teacher, a sales clerk, a physician… or as a father, or mother, or whether I am single, divorced, or widowed.
As Francis Schaeffer famously declared, “With God, there are no little people and no little places.”
Whatever our role in the Kingdom, our worth is not to be found in the worldly value of our role. Our value is simply being his — not in what we do, but in whose we are. This is why we need our children to know that while they have a role, it is not their job or our expectations of them that they “do something great for God.” No, and a thousand times, “No!”
It is God who has done something great for them!
Jesus is the only one qualified to play the lead role of Savior. Any part we get to play is a gift — a bonus. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant contribution to the Kingdom in the eyes of the world is celebrated in the heart of the Father.
Otherwise, if we expect our kids to do something great or have every gift or always win, we as parents will be tempted to live vicariously through their success, subconsciously longing for our kids to validate us as parents, where we unintentionally require them to be Jesus for us. We will begin to compare our kids to their peers, feeling righteous if ours are successful and unrighteous if they are not.
Our kids will feel this.
Whether we accept and love them conditionally or unconditionally will influence them deeply.
So, let's find our parental validation in the Father's kindness to us and love for us in Jesus, not in the success of our parenting or in the success of our children. Then, let's pass that validation on to our kids.
Does it seem counter-intuitive to validate and affirm before a performance? Don't we usually wait until afterward to clap? Explain.
How does the Father's validation of Jesus at the start of his ministry prove fuel for his heart to press on through the challenges, temptations, and sufferings he would face?
What is the source of our validation?
What does it feel like for you to know you have been validated by the Father?
What could it look like to pass that on to your children? What changes might this require?