As an On Purpose Parent, our main goal is to raise our children to become interdependent, life-long followers of Jesus who desire to make a Kingdom contribution. The main way we are going to do this is called the On Purpose Parent (OPP) Plan.
The first Age/Stage of the OPP Plan is Birth-Kinder. This is where your main Role is that of a CAREGIVER, while your main Goal is that your child will “See Your Faith.”
Psychologist Erik Erikson has identified eight stages in his theory of development. Three of these development stages are taking shape in the minds of your children during this first Age/Stage of their lives, Birth-Kinder.
Being your child’s CAREGIVER is extremely important and difficult! It can leave you feeling like you’re doing more surviving than thriving. Most of your time and energy is now invested in ensuring your child’s every single physical need is met, while you’re also laying a foundation to help them grow towards emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
As your child’s CAREGIVER, you’re the first person to provide the foundational experiences your child will need to successfully launch them into life. God has strategically positioned you to NOT just capture your child’s milestones for their baby book (first coos, first smile, first words, first crawl, first steps, first day of Kindergarten) but to provide them with their first experience of…
> affection expressed through the snuggles, face kisses, and the words “I love you”
> comfort and safety shown when they are frightened from a bad dream or scrape their knee
> correction done in love when they make the bad choice
> being shown grace and patience in the midst of their bad choices
As you continue to navigate this Age/Stage, your Role as CAREGIVER has as its Goal that your child will “See Your Faith.” Here are three actions that will lead to your Goal:
1) Provide your child with a sense of SECURITY.
One of the fundamental questions that we ask in life is, “Will I be safe?” We have built entire industries and processes around this issue of our safety and security. We desire physical security, emotional security and financial security to name a few. The desire for our safety and security will always remain a basic need throughout our lives.
Your child’s safety and security are a priority you naturally incorporate into the daily life of your child. During this phase we go above and beyond to ensure our kids are living in a secure and safe environment. Child locks, latches, and gates are now standard features around the house to keep physical injuries at bay. Ensuring our kids physical safety and security is a vital role that we play as a parent.
However, on a deeper level it’s just as vital to create an environment for them in which our kids feel emotionally secure. They need to know that they are safe to feel the full range of their feelings and be loved and accepted. The lack of emotional security in a child is a root cause to many bad behavioral issues that they display. On the other hand, when a child feels emotionally secure, they are free to develop into a healthy way and ultimately thrive.
2) Help your child to learn to TRUST you and the other authority figures in their lives.
The key ingredient in developing trust is dependability. The ability to trust starts with being able to answer the question, “Can I depend on you?” If we can depend on someone, then we can trust them.
Your child’s ability to trust starts with you. Your child naturally trusts you because they naturally depend on you. When they are hungry, they know they can come to you to get fed. When they need a diaper change, they know you’re going to change it, when they’re afraid, they know they can come to you and you’ll comfort them. The list goes on and on.
As you continue to show up each day in your child’s life and you meet their basic needs, the result is that they will trust you. This is the foundation on which you will continue to build.
3) Help your child to feel LOVED.
Not ‘know’ they are loved but ‘feel’ they are loved. We know that love is more than a feeling. It’s a choice. But the way to your child’s mind is through their heart. For your child to know that they are loved, they first need to connect that knowledge to the feeling and emotion of the love you express towards them. As a parent who is a CAREGIVER, our job is to ensure that they feel the emotion of love…always.
By consistently practicing these three actions, your child will “See Your Faith” and know that they have a Heavenly Father who will keep them secure, who they can trust, and who loves them. You’re the single most important influence in your child’s life. And as that influencer, it’s important to stay focused on what really matters: Love God and Love People.
Remember that parenting in this Age/Stage should not be seen as a sprint to get out of as quickly as possible. Instead recognize that it’s a series of moments you’ll never get back. Understand and appreciate this time! Life is short! They grow up fast!