By Sarah Humphrey
I’m not sure about you, but I wasn’t 100% prepared for parenting when I became a parent. In fact, I was mostly clueless. Like many parents, learning how to raise kids came with a new need to read up on the topic, have a lot of prayer, trial, and error in my process, and also a lot of truth and grace about my present reality. What I didn’t know, I started to study. What didn’t work, I started to change. And what I did well, I continued. Just like learning anything in life, God has been gracious with me as I’m still learning to steward the lives of little ones, whether my own children or other children I encounter in life or ministry.
Over the course of the last eleven years, I’ve compiled a short list for myself on the top 8 things I’ve noticed children need from a healthy caregiver. This has also helped me tremendously as a person, because all of us are still living with our childhood in tow, and watching children grow brings out the inner-child in us as well.
Most people are juggling a lot of things at this time, whether school work and mask mandates, transitioning job responsibilities, or simply the demands of house and home. In a time when life can feel overwhelming, a short list can help us focus and come to a place of peace in our caregiving.
Here are the top 8 ways I’ve learned (and am still learning) to steward the grace of parenting:
- Be present. Being aware, hands-free, and focused shows kids that they are important and that they matter. Knowing this early on provides connection, comfort, and safety.
- Be prepared. Showing my kids that I have thought of them ahead of time makes them feel loved, seen, cared about, and nurtured. When I’ve taken care of myself, I can much more easily take care of them. Self-care is a great way to be able to remind yourself that you have to fill your cup before pouring it out.
- Be intentional. Looking for the ways to support or participate with your kids is one of the easiest ways to create healthy connections. Whether it’s getting up a few minutes early to make them breakfast, washing the clothes they love to wear, or clearing my calendar for events that matter to them, the simple act of intentionality makes everyone feel seen and valued.
- Be truthful. Kids love the truth. They are most often literal thinkers, and they need caregivers who will spend the time teaching them all the “Why’s” of life. Knowing the truth helps them feel safe, confident, and smart.
- Be encouraging. As much as we are truthful, we also need to be encouraging. Kids thrive on enthusiasm and support. Knowing that they are being guided, supported, and loved helps them thrive within themselves and with others.
- Be a good listener. Listening to kids is one of the smartest things we can do. Kids are usually honest. By hearing their requests, feelings, and thoughts, we show them that we care.
- Be patient and graceful. Kids are learning so many new things every day. It can feel overwhelming at times! Imagine being in a new city and not knowing how to get from one place to the next. Children can often feel that way in a big world. Take the time to slow down and be gentle.
- Be playful and adventurous. Being around children brings out our sense of fun and imagination. Take the time to be spontaneous, enjoy laughter, and have an out-of-the-box day or activity. As adults, it’s so important that we remember that the world is in God’s hands, and we can rest in that!
More than anything, enjoy the little ones in front of you. Caregiving takes a lot of energy, focus, and time, but there are few things more fulfilling than nurturing the life right in your midst!
Sarah is a wife and homeschool mom to three kids while also working as an artist, author, and voice actor. Her writing and doodling can be found in her devotional, “40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood” and her voice in several commercials, children’s books, and audiobooks. She loves encouraging women and kids to embrace self-care, utilize their gifts, and become leaders in the community around them.