It was almost Christmas, and I was sick of shopping. But here I was at the mall, waiting for someone to move so I could snag her parking spot before another last-minute shopper grabbed it. Why was I here again?
It was because my then 11-year-old son, John, was desperate for a new paintball set. "It's the only thing I want!" he exclaimed. I knew he'd probably use it once and then the attraction would fade.
Gifts like that don't have a long shelf life. Instead, it's the intangible gifts we give our kids every day of the year that have a far greater impact than any Christmas toy. Here are nine of them.
The Gift of Affection
When I was young, my father often pulled me into his arms and said, "Susan, I love you so much!" "Why?" I'd ask. "Just because you're mine," he'd respond. Dad was always verbally and physically affectionate. That affection gave me a glimpse of a God who loves me simply because I belong to him.
Even if you didn't grow up in an outwardly affectionate home, hug your kid often and tell her regularly that you love her. While it may feel awkward at first, you'll get used to it. No matter where you came from, you can be the first of a generation of healthy families.
The Gift of Family Traditions
Whether you plan a special family dinner one night a week or have a nightly bedtime "ritual," traditions don't have to be big. But their payoff is tremendous!
For example, my friend Lolly, who has four young sons, takes a few minutes each night as she puts them to bed to write messages with her finger on their backs. Since they're learning to read, they guess what she's telling them. As she spells out messages such as "I love you," their excitement grows. Can you imagine what her sons will be doing with their sons in 20 years? Mom's alphabet game!1