Maslow for Moms and Dads

You’re meeting your kids’ basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing. But what about their need for love, self-esteem, and significance?

I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting lately. I started reading Parenting is Heart Work and have been blown away by how good it is. I hope to post a summary here soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been wondering how Maslow’s heirarchy of needs relates to raising children.  You’re probably familiar with the model:


I think most of us understand the importance of meetings our kids’ basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, and safety. It’s those higher levels that require more from us: helping them feel loved, valued, significant, special…instilling a sense of purpose and possibility, being intentional.

I often come back to the idea that I can’t give what I don’t have. I can’t give my kids the energy I don’t have, the love I don’t have, the purpose I don’t have, the presence I don’t have, the joy I don’t have. In order to meet their higher needs I must first meet my own.

Which leads me to God. I simply cannot be the father my kids need without connecting with my Heavenly Father. So I pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:9-13

It’s only as I allow God to meet my deepest needs that I have anything of significance to offer others.

I’m always at my best after I’ve been with my Dad. Perhaps you can relate. Jesus got this. He often withdrew to lonely places to pray.

We need to connect with the Father’s heart if we want to connect with the hearts of our children.

Going to God also reminds me that parenting is a divine partnership. It’s not all on me and Kim. We’re supposed to love our kids through God and help them develop with God. He knows and cares about them way more than we ever could and his energy reserves never run dry.

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