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What Today’s Children Really Need

People blame television, video games, feminism, religion, lack of religion, social media, and technology. With a resounding voice society asks: What is happening to our children?

Yes, society has changed, but I think the real issue is that we’ve lost sight of what our children need.

Here are my thoughts on what today’s children really need.

Children need meaningful connections with family

Parents have so many demands. Work, stress, and bills place a lot of pressure on the family unit. However, children need to spend quality, connected time with their families. Board games, picnics, walks, talks, cuddles, and romps at the park… these are what make for strong bonds and build precious memories.

Children need time to play

We see the occasional quote about the value of play. We hear studies about how play helps children learn, grow, and develop; yet play is often compromised for activities such as organized sports, music lessons, tutoring, and homework.

We need to provide opportunities for our children to build, to dress up, to imagine, to dream, and explore.

Children need exercise

Children need to move. They need to run, skip, hop, and tumble. Children need opportunities to use their bodies and exert energy.

Children need to feel they are part of the community

Children are a part of our society from the moment they are born. Yet for some reason, many people don’t treat them as such until they’re in their mid to late teens. Kids need to feel like they are an part of their community.

Walks in the neighbourhood, participation in community events, lemonade stands, and saying hello to the neighbours on the street helps children build connections in their community.

Children need opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way to society

How can we possibly expect children to care about anything but themselves if we don’t give them opportunities to contribute to various causes? Within their own neighbourhoods children can assist with community projects, litter pick-up, shovel neighbours’ sidewalks, and tend community gardens.

Children need time to talk and time to listen

Deep, meaningful conversation is so important for our children. They have a voice, they have thoughts, and they have opinions. We, as adults, need to give them opportunities to exercise their voice. We need to listen to what children say. We need to let them know that their voice is important and valued. We also need to educate them about the power of their voice and how to use it responsibly.

We also need to teach our children how to listen, comprehend, and decipher the information they receive. Many messages are shared with our children on a daily basis. We need to ensure they have the ability to filter through what they hear and assist them in discerning what is of value.

Children need to know God

I am a Christian. My heart and soul longs for God. While many may argue that children don’t need to know God, I disagree. I don’t believe we have just a body and a mind; I also believe that we have a soul which thirsts to know our heavenly Father.

Our children need spiritual purpose. When I talk about spirituality, I’m not talking religion. I’m not talking about dragging them to church just because that’s what they’re supposed to do. What I’m talking about is loving a relationship with God. Our children need to seek, rest, live, and love with a purpose greater than this world and greater than themselves. Our children need eternal purpose.

Children need guidance and direction

Our kids need to know limits and boundaries. They need to understand that there are layers of rules that extend beyond their homes. They need to know, recognize and understand that rules are critical to the functioning of their schools, communities, and the world. Our children need guidance and direction so that they understand these rules and why these rules exist.

Children need balance

Busyness and rest, activity and peace… kids need to learn how to find balance in their lives. We need to help children strike a balance, which can be challenging for the busy parent to do. How can we help our children strike a balance when we, ourselves are imbalanced?

Children need love

I know it seems obvious but our children need love. If we demonstrate our affection, tell them with our words and our actions, our children will feel loved. It is from that love that they will continue to blossom into the people they are becoming.

Children are becoming

Children are individuals. They are growing. They are becoming. What they become rests in our hands.


Sometimes I come across an article that stirs my mind and resonates within me. This post was inspired by a deeply reflective post by Janine over at Confessions of a Mommyholic. Thank you Janine for inspiring me to share my thoughts on what our children need.

Jennifer Bly on sabemailJennifer Bly on sabfacebookJennifer Bly on sabgoogleJennifer Bly on sabinstagramJennifer Bly on sabpinterestJennifer Bly on sabstumbleuponJennifer Bly on sabtwitter
Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care. 

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61 thoughts on “What Today’s Children Really Need

  • Janine Huldie

    My absolute pleasure and I do love your suggestions and going to back link your article on my article today, too, because I truly as you know, couldn’t agree with you more. Hugs to you and happy Monday xoxo ;)

  • Echo

    I completely agree with so many of these! It is so true that a lot of these basic needs are falling by the wayside these days. Thank you for posting this as a reminder!

  • Jessica Dimas

    This post made me cry, in a good way! But because we do forget so often that children are people too and need all of the same things that we do. I do it to my own children, which is probably why this post touched me so much. I love the way you think so much further beyond just the surface, you truly are deliberate. Always inspiring me and making me want to do better for my kids with things I hadn’t thought of, thank you Jennifer xo

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I’m delighted that this resonated with you Jessica. I’m constantly questioning society and my “view” of the child. Things change and shift but I think these a necessary foundations on which we can help our children learn, grow, and “become”.

  • Tiffany

    Oh Jennifer, this post is so touching. It really got me thinking of A and how she lives her life right now. Is she getting enough exercise? Are we treating her like a person? All the things you mentioned. You are such an inspiration with your wise words my dear.


    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed this Tiffany.

      Often these posts are born out of my own parenting reflections too (which happen sometimes several times a day). Treating them like a “person” is so important to me. When I raise my voice I will often catch myself because I wouldn’t just up and yell at anyone… why do that with my children? They are people too!

  • Caryn

    This is such a heartfelt piece. I love it and want to print it out and put on the wall. Sometimes I feel like many of us try and make things happen (scheduling the playdates, the lessons, etc.) rather than just letting them organically occur. Though play, exploration, non-agenda filled family time…we often stumble upon our own goodness in life. Thanks for reminding me and many others of this.

  • Debbie

    Hi Jennifer, great post…All of the above shows why parenting is such an important and often undervalued job (for want of a better word).

    Constantly entertaining and pushing children into organized activities does impact on their ability to play. When children are left to their own devices (when bored) will often become creative and come up with interesting ways to play and entertain themselves.

    A healthy balance of everything is key to giving a child everything they need AND making them feel valued and loved.

  • April

    I love this! I see a lot of kids missing out on precious time with their parents. I see parents taking their kids to the park and spending the whole time on their phones. So sad.

  • Melissa

    Thanks for writing this. I sometimes feel like my kids are the only ones not in a ton of organized activities. However, when we are too busy going from one place to the next, there isn’t any downtime or time to connect.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      My children aren’t in very many organized activities either. We do girl guides once a week and a physical sport once a week. Even at times that feels like a lot but then again, since we homeschool, we’re connecting frequently throughout the day every day.

  • Amanda @ Growing Up Madison

    Fabulous post Jennifer. I’m so with you on what they become rest in our hands. Its our job not to help mould our kids by giving them all these experiences. I’m trying with mine and it can be a struggle at times but we aren’t perfect so we’re just taking it one step at a time.

  • Tamara

    Sometimes I get sad when a blur of a day is over.. and I wonder… did they get all that? Were we close all day? Did we exercise and bond? Did they read? Did they eat well? Were they happy?
    The only one my kids don’t know, at least yet, is a relationship with God. I’m not sure they even know that people believe in God. It’s never been a conversation. They’re so young and we’re a mixed religion family. I’ve been pacing myself in how to approach it but I do think it’s important to talk about.
    And I do want them to believe, the way I was raised.

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I have days like that too Tamara… I think we all do. The day blows past and you wonder, what did they “get” from that day?!

      Thanks so much for sharing such a thoughtful and reflective comment. I love hearing your perspective on things.

      I hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

  • Sarah Nenni Daher

    I’m teary-eyed right now because it breaks my heart that there are children in the world who aren’t getting these things.

    My husband and I were just talking about a few of these same things, and our plan for our daughter’s development in those areas. It’s funny, but I never thought of other parents consciously doing this, but I’m glad to see we’re in good company!

  • Krisztina @ krisztinawilliams.com

    Great post! I know I definitely struggle with listening. My life is so busy as a single mom that I find myself saying “Please, only if it’s important.” In hindsight, I feel terrible about it, because it doesn’t have to be important…or rather, it is important because my daughter is wanting to talk and connect. It shouldn’t matter if it’s a vital issue or something silly. Especially when they’re coming into their own, children really need to be heard. I should be the one who is doing the listening for them more than anyone else!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      I hear you and completely understand Krisztina. Don’t be too hard on yourself and listen when you can. We’re only human… and as long as our children have our complete attention at times, it’s okay!

      Thank you so much for sharing such a reflective comment.

  • Michelle

    Unconditional love! Not on what they can accomplish or on their performance, but just because God made them who they are with or without a special talent, a perfect body, a smart mind. Just because HE created them! Enjoyed reading this. Always touches my soul to read about children.

  • Candace

    What a great and thorough list! I couldn’t agree with you more. This is one of my favorites: “Children need opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way to society.” I did this somewhat with my kids but definitely could have done a better job when they were younger. It’s something I work harder on now and it really makes a difference in their lives when they serve others. Thank you for these incredibly important reminders, Jennifer!

  • Sharon

    I agree about children needing loving a relationship with God! Not religion but a relationship. My oldest asked me the other day what her purpose was! They amaze me with what is written on their hearts. I am so happy to that they need play on your list as well :) I do need to be more intentional about getting them involved in our community…
    Hope you have a beautiful day, friend!

  • Donna

    We have a great calling to nurture and care for these souls God has entrusted to us. We are the influencers. It’s too easy to forget that relationships take purposeful time. It’s too easy to let activities and busyness over take what is truly important.

  • Maria

    Such a profound post! I love your point about children needing to contribute something to society. I never thought about it that way–that for kids to care about something/someone other than themselves, they need to be able to see that they’re a part of something bigger. That’s a very eye-opening statement, and something I will keep in mind as I raise my daughter. Thank you for sharing!

  • K. Renae P.

    Such a powerful list. I think one of the best thing a parent can do that is often forgotten about is: let children feel like they are a part of a community. Too often kids have no ownership in their environment. They do not understand the important role they play. Letting kids know they have a place and a voice in society is an amazing way to raise a compassionate child who values integrity.

    Loved this.

  • katy allred

    beautiful post! you are dead on about that time to talk and time to listen – if we don’t respect what our children have to say and listen to them as well, how would they ever learn how to do that respectfully for others?

  • Lauren

    I agree 100% with your list! I love sitting outside with my kids while they play for hours outside with the neighbors.. my hubby and I even take turns since they never tire of being out there!!

    • Jennifer Bly Post author

      I’m delighted you enjoyed this Lis! These simple basis mean so much – and like you said, they’re often forgotten.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lisa – I hope you have a lovely weekend!