The early years of development are essential in individuals’ functioning throughout life. The need for love, security, purpose, significance, belonging and understanding are God-given core longings to be met adequately during early development. Photo: Unsplash
Parents’ efforts to nurture and admonish children in the way of the Lord is a daunting endeavor. Despite the fluctuation of society’s morals and values, it is incumbent on parents to nurture and admonish children for God. Nurturing and admonishing involve attending to children’s developmental needs, instructing and guiding them to trust and commit to God. Nurturing and admonishing have spiritual, physical, mental and emotional implications in the developmental years and over a lifetime.
The early years of development are essential in individuals’ functioning throughout life. The need for love, security, purpose, significance, belonging and understanding are God-given core longings to be met adequately during early development. When core longings are inadequately met, they create developmental gaps that affect how a person functions in the adult years.
Addressing repercussions of unmet core longings in adults is vital. Yet it is crucial to mitigate effects of unmet core longings by attending to children’s developmental needs. Doing this helps them grow into healthy adults who are less likely to be trapped in the spiral of dysfunctional habits.
Attending to the core longings of children requires intentionality, awareness, and creating atmospheres and moments where these needs are met. Parent-child relational atmosphere is pivotal in this process.
Responding to children’s need for love influences their cognitive-affective wellbeing. Love is not contingent on anything children do or fail to do. Parents’ expression of love should model God’s love for each person. God loves despite a person’s trait or character. He holds nothing back except what would cause harm.
Children’s sense of security is contingent on the relational climate within families. Both parents contribute to children’s experience of feeling secure. Fathers are likely to contribute more to children feeling secure. Children’s security is incumbent on the parent-child relationship, but vicariously they experience a sense of security by observing their fathers relating to their mothers with love and care. Children who experience a sense of security through family relationships develop trust.
Children realize their purpose through their identity in God and the family unit. Parents can help children understand what it means to be created in God’s image, empowering them to accept who they are and embrace the responsibility to live according to God’s desires. Parents’ also may nurture purpose in their children as they authentically live out their own God-given purpose.
Children’s significance and sense of belonging are linked to awareness of their purpose. Their significance is tied to understanding who they are in the family and the world. Parents can help children experience significance by letting them know they are valued in the family unit and God’s plan. Knowing they are loved and valued creates a lifetime sense of belonging—an awareness that they are wanted within their family units and in the Kingdom. Ultimately, they feel understood and are not ashamed to assert “who” they are and “Whose” they are as they fulfill their life’s purpose.
Jasmine Fraser, PhD, is assistant professor of Religious Education; director, PhD (Discipleship in Lifespan Education) Program, Andrews University