How to Really Love Your Child Through the Gift of Time | Christian families in Middle Tennessee | Nashville Christian Family Magazine

This article is part one in a five-part series on how to really love your child.

Why is it that your child always desires your attention when you are tired or late for the next thing?

Showing your child the love he or she needs comes in many facets. Over thirty years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a blockbuster book called The Five Love Languages, in which time is one of them. If you don’t have the book, I highly recommend it.

  1. Quality time. To clarify, we are talking about quality time not quantity time. I spent hours and hours watching my child swim at swim meets. The quality time happened during the car ride. To be fully present during these precious moments, we need to put the phone away, minimize the distractions, look into our child’s eyes (unless you are driving), and give them our undivided attention. So many families spend time together looking down at their phones instead of at each other. If we want to spend quality time with our kids, intentionally place boundaries around that space.
  2. Playtime. So much of family time is structured that we need to schedule unstructured time. If you catch your child playing on the floor, get down on his level and play with him. Go swing in the hammock with your child. Play catch or shoot baskets. Ride bikes or scooters. Make a snowman or throw snowballs. Learn some new board or card games. With teenagers, consider a marathon move night watching Star Wars or Avenger movies with popcorn, of course.
  3. Snuggle time. Read together in a comfy chair or before your child goes to bed. Keep rest quiet, slow, and relaxed. Bedtime always brings up interesting topics when the child is tired and defenses are down (or avoiding sleep).
  4. Teaching time. My dad and brother shared a love of cars. They spent time together as my dad taught my brother car mechanics. Teach your child a trade. Don’t focus on perfection but enjoy the process and time together. Don’t forget to learn from them too.
  5. Date time. Date your child when they are young and until they marry. Your daughter will learn how a man should respectfully treat a woman, and she’ll discover how precious she is to you. Your son can practice holding the door open for a woman. Ask questions, then listen to their thoughts and feelings and the state of their heart. You will know your child better after these moments.
  6. Prayer time. Prayer time is holy and sacred and binds the family in ways only God can know. Help younger kids think about those who need prayer. Guide your child to consider areas in her life where she needs God’s help. Hold hands and pray.

As Chapman says in his book, “When you spend time with your children you are creating memories that will last a lifetime.”

Sally and her husband enjoy an easy rhythm of life as empty nesters. You can follow her on Instagram at @sacressman or read more from her at

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