When we had our first son, I studied his likes and dislikes, his interests, his abilities, his sense of humor, and his challenges. He was extremely quiet, contemplative, and could read by 2.5 years old. I thought all of this was normal and wonderful and pretty much how every one of our kids would be.
And then along came #2. Whooooooosh, all those brilliant discoveries and assumptions I made about children flew right out the door. This one talked incessantly, had significant health struggles, smiled more than any human I knew, but was also super picky. He didn’t read (why this was a surprise to me, I do not know) and wasn’t obsessing about letters like his older brother. He had his own interests and they involved running, climbing, and flushing foreign objects down toilets. He lived life to the MAX.
As you can imagine, kids #3, #4, and #5 had equally diverse personalities. I was in awe at the number of differences between them and it made me wonder if we continued having kids, would we ever reach the end of God’s infinite creativity and humor? Like, would kid #4,276 be really into go-cart racing, silent yoga retreats, and Egyptian hieroglyphs? Who’s to say?
But as I continued on my wild parenting journey (is there any other kind?), I learned that for as different as all kids are – in personality, interests, and preferences – there are several important truths God wants us to know that apply to all children.
#1 God thinks each child is special
When God designed children, He made them unique, on purpose, and has good plans for them. We adults can sometimes forget this when we are struggling to make sense of a child who didn’t read our brilliant parenting manual or differs from our personality, or, gulp, is totally confusing us as to why they are the way they are!
For adults: “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11
Tell your kids: “God has plans for you that are so good.” (Jeremiah 29:11 paraphrase)
#2 Every child is loved by God
God absolutely delights in loving each of his children. That includes the forever promise of loving them and it is not dependent on their behavior, their achievements, or their obedience. We are human and sometimes focus more on kids doing what they’re told rather than on our relationship. The good news is God is the ultimate parent (and a great example to us!) and loves our kids – and us – no matter what.
For adults: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Tell your kids: “God loves you and nothing, nothing, nothing can ever stop God from loving you.” (Romans 8:38-39 paraphrase)
#3 God is with every child, always
There are plenty of moments when kids feel afraid but we can encourage them that God is always with them. They can feel safe because God is close. We can’t be with our kids at every moment of the day – and what a blessing to remind them that there is someone far greater than mom or dad who hangs out with them all the time.
For adults: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Tell your kids: “God wants you to know that you can be brave because He is with you wherever you go. He will never leave your side.” (Joshua 1:9 paraphrase)
#4 God sent Jesus for each and every child
Jesus was sent to love and cherish each child. No one’s left out. There’s no one who doesn’t deserve the love and sacrifice of Jesus. Period.
For adults: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Tell your kids: “God sent his Son, Jesus, for you. To save you and love you forever because you are so precious to Him.” (John 3:16 paraphrase)
#5 Jesus loves everybody and each kid can love people just like Jesus
Every kid who knows Jesus has the direct permission and instruction from the man Himself to go love others just like Him. We can encourage our kids that they have the mighty love of Jesus in them and that extends to everyone they meet. Loving all people is a way of sharing Him with others.
For adults: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
Tell your kids: “Jesus loves you so much and He wants you to love others just like Him.” (John 15:12 paraphrase)
Our kids may all be different from each other – and us – and may have a few, um, interesting personality traits. But we can also remember there are some universal truths that God applies to every child. Even to those who are still providing us (me) the joy of plunging toys out of our toilets.