The Need for Parental Affirmation

In this stage of parenting, I hear one phrase as much if not more than all other phrases: “Dad, look at what I did.”

Even if it is Baby Gloria babbling at me and pointing to something she knocked over, my children desire for me to recognize their accomplishments.  I am constantly being called to look at pictures drawn, letters written, towers erected, holes dug, siblings tied up, and so much more.

Deep down, each child is in need of parental affirmation.  They want to know that the ones they look up to the most, with whom they find the most security, think that who they are and what they can do is special.

Psalm 139 was written by David.  This psalm paints a beautiful picture concerning how much intentionality and care that God spent on creating each one of us and knowing each one of us.  Both God’s majestic qualities and intimate traits are highlighted.

Read Ps. 139:1-6 below and listen for key phrases:

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

It is reassuring and overwhelming to comprehend that God is acquainted with all my ways.  He is also acquainted with all my children’s ways.  If I really want to get to know my children, my best bet is to get around the one who knows them best.

Now read Ps. 139:13-16:

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Your child was handmade by God.  He knit each child together before we ever laid eyes on that child (Ps. 139:13).  The individual intricacies that distinguish each child were God’s ideas.  His eyes saw your child before there was anything to actually see (Ps. 139:16)!

For what are you most thankful for the way that God designed your children?

God has already written down every day of your child’s life in His book before they have even happened.

I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born.  I appointed you a prophet to the nations.  -Jer. 1:5

Your child has “been remarkably and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14).  They are special, unique, one-of-a-kind.  Who they are and what they do is remarkable.  What specifically can you point out to your children about the way that God has made them?  How can you ascribe value to their life by pointing out the beauty of who they are?  Regardless of old your children are, they still want to hear you think they are special.  And if they hear it from you, maybe they won’t be as desperate to hear it from someone else.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.

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2 Comments

  1. David Kramer

    Travis, this writing sounds good and all, (in a religious and cursory way), but you’ve got this backwards, brother. You see, i am a product of exactly what you just did in this post; making your kids secondary. I’m the son of an excessively “spiritual” man, a “Christian” with a capital C, you name it, the works, and I was looking for precisely what you were alluding to before you wasted no time pounding the scriptures. As a kid, i just needed a dad, Travis. And no, the best way to get to know and affirm your children is not through their Creator. That is NOT God’s job. It’s yours. You were created to be all that is needed for them. Get away from this religious mentality; God made us good enough for the living of life. The relationship with Him is for you, and if anything, it should give you insight into being a better father, not simply imbuing you with parental success and guaranteeing your kid’s welfare. This is taking an indirect path. Kids need to know they are a primary entity, and the only one who can impart that truly is a parent. Correlating the quality of your relationship to God with your relationship with your kids is a mistake. The problem in church circles nowadays is that you can’t just have anything going in your life that is considered to have any merit as far as the “christian” community is concerned unless it’s “God-flavored” or attached to scripture somehow. Scripture doesn’t make our lives, Travis. Our lives and the living of them by following what we already know in our hearts should CONFIRM scripture. It’s a checklist bro, not a manual. These religious perspectives always dismiss and de-value the direct significance of the human being. Please don’t leverage spiritual conveyances like God and scripture as a crutch, Travis. This post works only in the context of the religious circles it caters to, not in the context of real life. Make sure your kids know it’s you that’s right there with them, affirming and valuing them; not just under the auspices of God’s direction or whatever, otherwise you may just end up with adult children like me, insecure and emotionally flailing in life, with an inadequate sense of self. I can go straight to the source for scriptural or spiritual reassurance; the veil was torn, was it not? But what can you Travis, a human being, offer- as a man, a father, a human being, to another man, a father, another human being that i can’t just get for myself? Say nothing of a human child? Sorry brother, but this post is empty of real answers and i’m moving on to find something that has them. May you find not just answers, but the right ones. Love to you.

    • David, my heart is breaking reading your comment. I can tell there is a lot of hurt in your life. For that, I truly grieve. I think though you misread the post. I am all about affirming my children for who they are and how they are unique. That was the goal of the post. I regularly communicate in my house and teach parents in our congregation concerning the need to affirm their children privately and publicly. http://www.travisagnew.org/2016/04/05/affirming-your-children/

      I pray that there comes a day in your life when you are not “insecure and emotionally flailing in life.” Praying for that now!

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