I tend to be a worrier, and one of the things I worry about most is my children. I suppose a lot of moms can relate to that. :-) I especially worry about how our life overseas is impacting them.

Am I giving them what they need?

I can't give them whole wheat bread and organic produce. I can't take them to zoos and parks and libraries and museums. We don't have a schoolroom full of educational games and craft supplies. They wear hand-me-down clothes and sleep on a foam mattress. I'm not saving up money for their college education. They don't even get to see their grandparents on a regular basis!

What if they miss out somehow? What if their education, or their emotional development, or their overall success in life is damaged by the choices I'm making for them in these early years of their lives?

I have to step back every so often and remind myself of what really matters. From my limited expereince as a mother, and my somewhat broader expereince as a people-watcher, I believe there are a few basic things that children really need. If those needs are consistently met, things will turn out okay . . . and if those needs are NOT met, it really doesn't matter how much organic granola they eat or how many educational toys they have. Right, ladies?

What our children really need:

1) Time. Ouch. That's a precious commodity, right? We have housework to do, languages to learn, people to minister to, a mission to fulfill, and we just don't have a lot of time left for our children. But our children NEED our time. They need to know that we care enough about them to give them time. And all that discussion about quality time vs. quantity time? Honestly, our kids need both. They need some special, focused, one-on-one time. But they also just need lots of time. Let them follow you around asking questions. Let them help you wash dishes or make cookies (even if it takes twice as long and makes a huge mess!) Take a few minutes to cuddle when they wake up from naps. Sit with them while they do their schoolwork, with a book or project of your own if they don't need your help.

2) Love. Well this one is easy! Of course we love our kids! But do they know it? How often do you say it? How do you show it? They don't assume that you love them just because you're their mom. They need to hear it with words, to feel it with hugs and kisses, to see it in your eyes and your smile when you look at them. Make sure there's no doubt in their minds that you love them like crazy.

3) Respect. This is actually the hardest one for me. I'm supposed to teach them to respect me . . . but at the same time, I need to respect them. They respect my authority, I respect their personhood and individuality. I am still learning what this looks like every day as I interact with my children. But I do think it's important, and becomes more important the older your children are. Although I have lots of dreams for my children, most of all I want to respect God's call on their lives and let them be all that He wants them to be.

So relax, Momma. You can give your children time and love and respect no matter where you live or what your circumstances are. Let's keep our eyes on the things that are really important.

I am still new on this journey of motherhood. Are there any older mothers who have words of wisdom for us? Keeping the right perspective on our children's needs is so helpful in the stress of everyday life!

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