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Children understand love in three ways: affection, affirmation and attention. (Pexels)

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God" (1 John 4:7).

If you want to know how to be a good parent and build a strong family, you don't have to look online or go to a bookstore. Look no further than the greatest book ever written on parenting: God's Word, the Bible.

It says in 1 John 4:7a "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God."

More than anything else, kids need unwavering and unconditional love. There needs to be a place where they're accepted—warts and all.

What is compassion? Compassion is a combination of love and understanding. Compassion is where you know everything about someone and you still like that person.

Love is not natural. You have to learn to love. You learn by practicing. What better place to practice than with the people you're forced to live with all your life? If you can learn to love your family, you can love anybody. Why? Because it's easy to love people at a distance, but when you're with them all the time, you don't always get along. When you practice love in the family, you're learning to really love.

A lot of times we love our kids, but we don't express it in a way they can understand it. Children understand love in three ways: affection, affirmation and attention.

1. Affection. Children need lots of hugs and touch and kisses. They need to feel your love.

2. Affirmation. You need to tell your kids every day—and more than once a day—how much you love them. Affirm them, and build them up with love.

3. Attention. One of the greatest gifts you can give others is listening to them. When you look at children on their level, you're saying, "You matter to me. You're important to me. I want to hear what you have to say." In doing this, you show compassion.

Talk It Over

  • In what different ways do you see that your children express and receive love?
  • What routines or habits can you practice so that you are showing your kids affection, affirmation, and attention every day?
  • If you don't have children, what is your responsibility to the children in your life, such as nieces and nephews, neighbors or the children of friends?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global internet community for pastors.

This article originally appeared at pastorrick.com.

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