One fine day, my wife and I took Kristen, our 13-month-old daughter, to the beach. It was perfect, beautiful weather. As we strolled down the sand, each holding a little hand, she excitedly smiled and chattered in that special encrypted language of hers.
Jesus has a special place in His heart for children, and, as Christians, we are called to follow in His footsteps and try to raise our children with the knowledge of God and His son. Jesus showed us to lead by example and use kindness and understanding to teach children and remind them of God’s ways. This requires that we have patience, a close relationship with God, and a personal commitment to His ways.
Many adults have looked at a child blissfully enjoying playtime, and have, for a moment, wished they were children again. They look so peaceful, so happy, with hardly a care in the world. Children laugh easily, they enjoy what they do, and they get excited about the simplest things. They generally have minor, temporary worries that rarely last more than a few minutes or an hour. They likely spend so much more time than you do just being happy and engaged.
A new baby fills our lives with a special joy, a special hope. A baby is a living soul, formed through the union of a spirit created by God with the physical elements of your body. William Wordsworth put it beautifully:
I’m sure parents the world over share my dread of wrestling with children’s homework and preparing for tests. Calming my teenagers’ anxiety before a test or trying to get them to eat breakfast before a benchmark exam are parenting moments I’ll be more than happy to be done with.
My daughter Kristen is a celebrity. Has been since birth. My wife and I follow her every move and document her moods, faces, and actions. We talk about her a lot and share stories about her funny habits or latest tastes. We give her our support and care, and do our best to protect her from harm. She has all our attention, even in the middle of the night, and we get up eager to see what she’ll do in the new day. Her laugh always makes us smile, and her tears spur us to remedy situations. To us, she’s the best.
For years I monitored children during recess and playground activities. Between all the running, jumping, rowdiness, and good-natured play, someone would often end up getting run into, tripped, shoved, etc.
Often the child who had caused the accidents would immediately raise his or her hands and say, “It’s not my fault” or “I didn’t do it on purpose!” But of course, establishing guilt wasn’t the immediate priority. The most important issue is the welfare of the “injured” one.
At the heart of Christmas is the Child of Bethlehem, who was born into this often cold, hostile world to warm us with His heavenly Father’s love. It was a child who began the first Christmas celebration, and it is children who keep it alive in their own special ways.
Children are natural learners. As long as their basic needs are met, their thirst for new information and experiences is boundless. If they’re happy and have interesting things to do and safe places in which to do them, that’s even better.
On the way home after an evening outing with some friends, I asked my youngest if he had a good time.
“Sort of,” he answered. “But the kids on the playground were teasing me.”
“About what?” I asked. He sometimes reacts strongly to comments, so I assumed it wasn’t a big deal.