There is no greater love someone can experience than the love of one’s parents. Nothing comes close to meeting the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs of a human being like that kind of love. Having a child is a gift and an opportunity to guide the life and development of a person who can contribute to the world in wondrous ways. Each person gets but one childhood in which to bond with one’s parents, one childhood to experience being loved by one’s parents, one childhood to remember. Parents are afforded one opportunity to offer their child all that is needed to become a happy and contributing member of a community.

Parents – make it count.

Invest all of your time, energy, and efforts in the one opportunity that you have to raise each child with whom you are blessed. Spend time with each child because feeding and clothing them is not enough. All children need to have their basic needs met: air, water, and food, along with clothing and shelter. But they also need empathy, acceptance, and understanding; in other words, LOVE. Many parents find themselves working countless hours to meet the physical needs of their children. Others find themselves in the most difficult position of crossing borders, with or without their children, in an effort to meet the most basic of needs such as food and clothing. While these are noble efforts, in countless instances they wind up missing the mark if parents are not also striving to nurture their children’s psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs, needs that can only be met during childhood.

How can you work to meet these needs?

Eat with your children. Sharing meals with one another offers an opportunity to engage while meeting a basic need; it also provides a structure in which parent and child can spend TIME together talking about recent events and an opportunity to process thoughts, feelings, and reactions to those events.

Play with your children. Dr. Garry Landreth, a well-known play therapist, states that play is the language that children use to communicate, and toys are their words. Playing with your children offers you an opportunity to witness firsthand how your children experience the world, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, and how they in turn respond to their experiences. It offers parents an instant opportunity to address concerns in the moment and to be proactive in their children’s lives.

Read to your children. Reading to your children offers moments of tranquility. While being read to, children have an opportunity to practice listening skills, being still, paying attention, and focusing. Additionally, it exposes them to new words, expanding their vocabulary. Children who have an extensive vocabulary are able to use their words to express themselves more effectively and are less likely to resort to maladaptive behaviors such as cursing, screaming, fighting, or hitting. When children resort to such maladaptive behaviors, it is often linked to an inability to express their thoughts and feelings verbally.

By eating together, playing together, and reading together, parents are helping their children develop skills that are related to effective communication. In turn, open communication builds strong relationships. Furthermore, your children will love you for it.

Parents – you only have one opportunity, one childhood to bond with each child. Make it count.

When you invest time, energy, and efforts in your child during his or her one childhood, you nurture and nourish his or her mind, spirit, and soul forever. You are creating the one childhood experience for your child to remember with fondness and joy and the one opportunity for your child to be able to say, “My childhood was a happy one.”