Parental Love and Acceptance
Parental love is the first love a child experiences and the first love he (she) understands.
One of the difficult things children must deal with are the lies that can come into their minds masquerading as truth: “I’m not loved,” “I’m not accepted,” “I’m not appreciated,” “I’m not attractive,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m too fat,” “too thin,” “too tall,” “too short,” “too dumb,” “too smart,” “too everything.” These lies escalate as children move into their teenage years and often are carried into adulthood. That’s why I’m convinced it’s never too soon to start praying for a child to feel loved and accepted—first by God, then by family, then by peers and others. We can start when they are babies, or whatever age your child is at this moment, and pray about this concern throughout their lives.
The opposite of being loved and accepted is being rejected—something we’ve all experienced at one time or another in our lives. Who among us has never felt embarrassment, humiliation, failure, fault, or someone’s disapproval over something we’ve done? Whether it be by a family member, a friend, or a complete stranger, rejection happens to all of us. Some people can let such incidents roll off their backs, because they know, deep within, that they are accepted. Others, however, may bear deep emotional wounds from incident after incident of rejection, so any perceived lack of acceptance can transform their personalities into something ugly.
A person who already feels rejected interprets everything as rejection—a mere look, a harmless word, an insignificant action—while someone who feels loved and accepted thinks nothing of the same look, word, or action. A person may not actually be rejected, but if he (she) believes he (she) is, the effect is just as damaging as if it were true.
The love of God, however, can change all this. Knowing that God loves and accepts us changes our lives. He says, “I have chosen you and not cast you away” (Isaiah 41:9). “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). And He proves His love because “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). On top of that, the Bible assures us that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
We must pray that our children understand these truths; they are the solid ground upon which love and acceptance are established in their character.
A parent’s power
Even though it is God’s love that is ultimately most important in anyone’s life, a parent’s love (or lack thereof) is perceived and felt first. Parental love is the first love a child experiences and the first love he (she) understands. In fact, parental love is often the means by which children actually open themselves to God’s love and come to understand it early in life. That’s why from the time our children are born, we should pray, “God help me to really love my child the way You want me to and teach me how to show it in a way he (she) can understand.” If, however, your child is now older and you realize for one reason or another that he (she) doesn’t feel loved, you can begin right now asking God to penetrate his (her) heart with His love and open it to receive your love and the love of others.
Ask God to show you what you can do to communicate love to your child—and don’t listen to the Devil weighing you down with guilt about past failure. You know his tactics:
“Your child doesn’t feel loved because you’re a terrible parent.”
“If you weren’t so dysfunctional you’d be able to communicate love to your child.”
“No one ever loved you, so how can you love anyone else?”
These are lies from the pit of Hell and part of Satan’s plan for your child’s life.
If you are being tormented by guilt or feelings of failure in this area, confess your thoughts to God, pray about it, put it in God’s hands, and then stand up and proclaim the truth. Say, “God loves my child. I love my child. Other people love my child. If my child doesn’t feel loved it’s because he (she) has believed the lies of the enemy. We refuse to live according to Satan’s lies.” Although you may have to persist for a while on this, don’t give up resisting the Devil’s lies by speaking God’s truth. Then pray for God’s love to penetrate your child’s heart, as well as for your love to be perceived and received.
Eye to eye
Along with prayer, children need to see love manifested toward them with eye contact, physical touch (a pat, a hug, a kiss), and with loving acts, deeds, and words. I found that when I made a deliberate effort to look my children directly in the eye with my hands gently touching them and with a smile say, “I love you and I think you’re great,” I could always see an immediate and noticeable change in their face and demeanor. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. It may feel awkward at first if you’ve never done it before, or if your child is older or even an adult, but go ahead and do it anyway. If you are hesitant, pray that God will enable you to do it and that it will be well received.
If you feel you don’t have the love you need to give your child, ask the Holy Spirit for it. The Bible says “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). One of God’s main purposes for your life is to fill you with so much of His love that it overflows onto others. Praying for your child will not only be a sign of that love in your heart, it could also be the very means by which that love is multiplied to overflowing.
Lord, I pray for (name of child) to feel loved and accepted. Penetrate his (her) heart with Your love right now and help him (her) to fully understand how far-reaching and complete it is. Your Word says You loved us so much that You sent Your Son to die for us (John 3:16). Deliver him (her) from any lies of the Enemy that may have been planted in his (her) mind to cause him (her) to doubt that Jesus said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9-10). Lord, help (name of child) to abide in Your love. May he (she) say as David did, “Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning, for in You do I trust” (Psalm 143:8). Manifest Your love to this child in a real way today and help him (her) to receive it. I pray also that You would help me to love this child unconditionally the way You do, and enable me to show it in a manner he (she) can perceive. Reveal to me how I can demonstrate and model Your love to him (her) so that it will be clearly understood. I pray that all my family members will love and accept him (her), and may he (she) find favor with other people as well. With each day that he (she) grows in the confidence of being loved and accepted, release in him (her) the capacity to easily communicate love to others. Enable him (her) to reach out in love in a way that is appropriate. As he (she) comes to fully understand the depth of Your love for him (her) and receives it into his (her) soul, make him (her) a vessel through which Your love flows to others. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Taken from The Power of a Praying Parent. Copyright © 2005 by Stormie Omartian. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.