THE WORLD WILL CHANGE WHEN CHILDREN KNOW THEY ARE LOVED
May 11, 2023

The World Will Change When Children Know They Are Loved

By Sara Meyers, Communications Specialist

James Corden, the late night television host and actor, was interviewed recently about parenting and in describing an interaction he had with his teenage son who was a little angry over a situation, James describes a sit-down with him where he asked him a few noteworthy questions: “do you think I love you?,” “do you think I would ever do anything to intentionally upset you?,” “do you think I’m smart and wise?” His son answered positively on all three counts. Out of these questions, James and his son were able to have an honest conversation where he ultimately reminded him not only that he is trustworthy as his father, but also how loved he is as his son.

I was moved when I saw the interview because this is not only how I want to parent my daughter and my son, but it’s also how I see nonprofits we work with every day leading and guiding children and families toward love and wholeness. Last year, The Foundation had the opportunity to work with a host of organizations who are knee-deep with parents and children in the work of mentoring so children do not feel isolated, counseling so families are not alone when mental health burdens become too much to bear, and housing mothers and their children who may be in crisis. The work community partners are doing across our region stands out so powerfully because it all ultimately reminds me of our perfect Father who is trustworthy and who deeply loves us.

Fascinatingly, the Bible actually tells us about God’s specific parenting style. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus tells us “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” In Matthew 6, we are told that the birds and the lilies in the fields have all of their needs met, so “do not be anxious” because “your heavenly Father knows all you need.” In James 1, we are also told “every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

In Psalm 103, King David echoes the words God told Moses hundreds of years before and tells us “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

It is clear that this God, who identifies as our Father, leads out in power and love most of all.

What would happen to our world, our society if we could all understand just a little more about how loved we are by our Good Father? Love is the foundation for understanding our identity. As a parent, I see this every time I hold my three year-old-daughter tightly and tell her I love her. I work hard not to rush these moments or view them as inconveniences even though there is always so much going on. These moments every day are minutes I cherish because I know they are shaping her identity. I can visibly see the truth of her being loved sink into her physical body. Her face loosens where there may have been stress, her eyes brighten, her shoulders drop—because she can walk confidently (and sometimes with sass too) knowing that she is dearly loved by her parents and perfectly loved by God.

A 2013 UCLA study actually found that “unconditional love and affection…can make children emotionally happier and less anxious. This result happens because their brain can change as a result of the affection.” God told the people of Israel in Jeremiah 31, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” God’s character has stayed consistent throughout history with the fact that He is a God of unconditional, everlasting, pure love for us. We love seeing the way nonprofit partners step into the lives of families everyday so that children can learn and grow in the knowledge that they are deeply loved, and thereby shape who they were made to be. When a child experiences “unconditional love,” it can transform everything about them– how they talk, how they act, how they make decisions, how they have compassion for others. On paper, “programming” can look like the shift or the catalyst for change, but when we visit with organizations and look into the eyes of those locking arms with children and families, it is so evident what is actually happening.

When we see these partners sitting side-by-side with children in classrooms to invest in them through after-school programming, or working with parents directly through home visiting so they can learn how to invest in their children wisely, or mentoring youth to show them their potential so they can visualize the bright futures ahead, we see the love of God and our hope is to see His love transform lives. When The Rees-Jones Foundation talks about “philanthropy,” this is exactly what we want to invest in—organizations that are pouring out the love of God onto children and families so they can “experience the love of Christ in tangible ways.”



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