We Florentines were blessed by a visit of child expert Helle Heckmann a few months ago when she gave her Count 5! Early Childhood Summit. As a part of our follow-up, I am writing about love and the role that love plays in raising a child.

Heckmann reminds us that care and love are the most important things for our children. She asserts the following: “Children grow emotionally and socially when we surround them with love, care, safety and trust.”

I agree with her statement, but I submit that when one truly loves a child that care, safety and trust are some of the automatic results. When we consider God our Father, he is described as our faithful provider who will protect us and one in whom we have complete trust. Psalm 91 describes him thusly:

“You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

Children are gifts from God, and we should do everything humanly possible to ensure that we provide the utmost care for these precious gifts. In order to do this, we must follow his divine example.

God cares for us, and God is always right by our side. Infants feel safe and secure when they are held close to the mother or father. There they can feel the heartbeat of the loved one; there they will find a familiar smell, and hear a familiar voice – all things that remind them that they belong.

Heckmann suggests that caring for a small child is a bit like drawing a circle around the child. She states that initially the circle is small and protective but states that the circle will grow bigger as the child grows bigger and as the child slowly becomes an adult.

The love that we share with our children is perpetual, and it is important that our children feel loved from the very beginning. In loving our children, we must allow them to grow and learn at their own pace but remain ever so vigilant that we will always be there when they need us. For instance, a toddler at some point must eventually learn to walk on his or her own but will be more confident if mom or dad is standing near by to pick them up when he or she falls.

Falling down is a part of life, and we must show love and caring when our children make mistakes. We must correct and discipline them when necessary, but all of our correcting must be done in a manner as to not damage the spirit of our young loved ones. Love is the key, for if we have love, most everything else will come naturally, and for those things that don’t, we will seek them, all because we love.

Calvin E. Robinson Jr., D.Min., is the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in downtown Florence.

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