October 25, 2022
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Non-verbal communication. You don't always need words to communicate what you need to get across. Well, our 18-month-old granddaughter didn't. It might have been one of those times when Mommy was preoccupied with one of the thousand things that, you know, you have to stay on top of. The little one didn't try to make any big noise about what she needed. She just toddled from the living room where Mommy was, into the bedroom, picked up a diaper, toddled back into the living room, and laid herself down right in front of Mommy, diaper in hand, with her legs in the air, ready for a change. Get the idea, Mommy?
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Looking for the Need Behind Your Child's Deed."
Our granddaughter had a need. She didn't know how to put it into words. So she acted it out. In a way, that doesn't change as our children grow. They often don't know how to put the need inside them into words. They may not even know what the need is, so they act it out - in their behavior. And that behavior often isn't very cute. It may drive us nuts, it may worry us to death or baffle us. There is no more important lesson for a parent to remember than this: behind your child's deed is a need. And you won't affect the deeds until you do something about the needs that drive those deeds. A wise dad was confiding his concern to me the other day about his son's use of alcohol - that's the deed. Then he said, "You know, there's some need there." He's right.
Using parenting as an example of how he treated the believers at Thessalonica, Paul says this in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. It's our word for today from the Word of God: "We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God." Right there you've got three powerful tools in your parenting tool kit, each designed to meet the needs that are driving their deeds.
Sometimes, there's discouragement deep down inside, making them act the way that they're acting. So you respond to that need with some positive encouraging. Other times, there's pain inside from something you may not know about or realize that it has hurt them. It's time to then apply some gentle comfort. Other times there's a lack of clear direction, confusion about what's the right thing to do. That may act itself out in some crazy behavior, but the need behind it is to be urged in the right direction.
So, behind your son or daughter's actions may very well be a need that really needs some attention. They may feel like they're not worth much - so they make choices that fit that self-evaluation. But the bad choices are because of bad feelings about their worth. Or maybe your child's unduly curious about sex. Could it be because you've never given them clear and loving sexual answers? Sometimes, the need is just to feel loved. You may be showing your love by things you do for them, but their language of love may be more about your availability, or your public treatment of them, or your exclusive time you give them, or just your hugs. If that need isn't met at home, listen, they're going to go somewhere else to have it met and that can mean a disaster.
If you're going to get behind your children's deeds to their needs, you're going to have to make James 1:19 your modus operandi - "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." If you listen a lot, if you listen patiently, un-condemningly, you'll begin to hear the needs behind their deeds. Just as your Lord did. It says, "When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them." (Matthew 9:36) Compassion - that literally means the capacity to feel with the other person. That's what your son needs. That's what your daughter needs.
Yeah, the deeds need to be addressed. But it's the needs that are driving them. God has promised His wisdom upon request (James 1:5), and nobody needs that wisdom more than moms and dads. So, several times a day as you look at your children, ask your Heavenly Father, "Help me see what You see when you look at them." Then you'll know how to give them what they need most.