What Your Kids Need Most From You


“Let only word(s) . . .good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  Ephesians 4:29

So what is it that your kids need most from you?  Love? Food? Shelter? As the father who raised teenagers, I wonder if most kids would say “cash.”

Joking aside, I believe that deep within the heart of every person is a longing for their parent’s approval—for a confidence that my mom and my dad know me, love me, value me, and are proud of me.

Whether it’s the preschooler who says, “Look what I’ve made, Mommy!” or the high school girl who nervously asks, “Dad, how do I look?” as she stands in the doorway decked out in her prom dress. Grown children are no different:  they can’t wait to show Mom and Dad the new house or the new car or the new baby.

I’ve heard people say, “I’m done with my parents’ approval. I once wanted it big time but I never got it and now I’m fine without it.”  I’ve also seen these same people drop everything and fly across the country to their father or mother’s deathbed, aching for one last chance to connect.

I’ll say it again—deep within the heart of every person is a longing for parental blessing.  The word used in the Old Testament for “blessing” means literally to bow the knee.  It expresses fondness for, confidence in, and recognition of a specific person. Scripture actually mentions five different ways parents can bless their children, but today, we’ll look at only one.

Here’s the principle: A blessing is not a blessing until it is spoken.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the tongue.”  The clear message of Scripture is that what we say is very powerful.

What we say has the power to destroy.  I am sure you can quickly call to mind some painful, awful things that have been said to you.  You remember them more keenly than words of praise, I know.

Yet while the tongue has the power to destroy, it also has the power to build up.  The biblical word is edify.  We can edify our loved ones by saying:

  1. Words of affection— “I love you.”
  2. Words of reconciliation— “I’m sorry.  I was wrong.  Please forgive me.”
  3. Words of vision—“You’re going to do something great.  God’s going to use your life.”
  4. Words of security— “You will always be mine.”

I often said to my kids when they were growing up,  “How long will you be my son?”  The first words my three-year-old boy would say were, “Forever, Dad.”  We need those words of security, don’t we? We all need the power of spoken words.

But words take time.  Mom tries to rush a few words in her daughter’s bridal room while the photographer is there, but it’s too late.  She waited too long.  Dad tries to get a few words in just before his son gets in the car and heads off to college.  He can’t believe how the years have gone by, and all the things he wanted to say never got said.  Loved one, you have to say it.

I want to hold up my parents as a model of this.  Since I was a kid, I have repeatedly heard words from my parents that have had a powerful influence in my life.  My dad wrote a letter to my wife and gave it to her the day we married. Near the end he writes, “I commend to you my son.  I love him dearly.  I’ll miss him deeply, but I give him up gladly to you since you are the one I have prayed for since his childhood that God would provide for him a virtuous woman.  You’re it, Kathy.  God bless you both.  Your loving future father-in-law.”

Parents, I am holding up to you this challenge.  Don’t miss your chance to say those words of blessing to your children.  Don’t let another day pass.  Pick one of the four blessings above and say it today.  You might want to ration one a day, or your kid might drop from a coronary. But say it, say it, say it.

Please don’t sit with your arms folded and resentment in your heart and say, “What about me?  I never heard it from my parents.”  Break the cycle, men and women of God!  Pass on words of blessing to your kids and to those you love. Follow after God’s heart and get the words said.

Your children will remember them and you will begin a cycle that, conceivably, will never end.