The daily tasks of parenting can be more than a full-time job: planning, shopping for and making the meals, laundry, helping with homework, shuttling kids to activities, managing the house, etc. (Do you feel tired yet? 😉 )
You accomplish these activities because you love and value your kids, but… while these activities create a vital rhythm of safety and security, they may not send a loud and clear message of “You are loved! You are precious to me! You are delighted in!” So, how do you make your child feel loved and truly valued?
Sometimes, the best way to show a child they are lavishly loved and unquestionably valued is by going a little over the top.
I (Jim) love the Golden Buzzer; that moment on the “America’s Got Talent” series when a performer unexpectedly gets a free trip to the finals because one of the judges joyously smacks the Golden Buzzer. Sparkling gold confetti falls, and the recipient jumps with joy and sheds tears of relief and happiness. The crowd goes wild! It’s an effusive celebration and affirmation.
My Golden Buzzer moments of feeling over-the-top loved and valued
I remember some Golden Buzzers in my life. Moments when I felt celebrated with no just cause except that I was loved. It felt so good!! The impact carried into my life for days afterward and into my memories forever.
Like the difficult phase in high school when I’d given my parents more than their share of trouble. But love without strings compelled my parents to throw me a surprise party – complete with a school bus full to capacity with my friends. I far from deserved this. The good feelings of that day set the stage for some significant healing in my relationship with my mom in the days that followed.
Or the time some dear friends knew I’d been having a stressful season in my job. They learned we would be away from home and got the keys from our kids. They proceeded to “Dot” the entire inside and outside of our home with a canopy of hundreds of multi-colored construction paper circles and a few strategically scattered notes of encouragement. The thought that so much effort went into celebrating me was a much-needed lift.
Showing kids they’re loved and valued isn’t a participation trophy
I’m well aware that too often these days, kids receive awards for just showing up. But this is different. This is the out-of-the-blue, unexpected, even unmerited lavish celebration, so a person knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are loved and valued.
We “Golden Buzzered” our kids one day after final grades were issued. Not because of good grades but to celebrate them no matter what their grades. A big Nerf war and popcorn and movies. They are now in their 30s and still remember – particularly the one whose grades were not so great that day.
God sings over you with shouts of joy!
The little book of Zephaniah depicts a Golden Buzzer moment. In chapter 3, verse 17, we’re told that “in his great love, God will no longer rebuke you, but will sing over you with shouts of joy!“
Until this promise is issued in Chapter 3, the book of Zephaniah is pretty dark. It depicts what life will be like for all who defy him (clue: everyone). For most of the book, the prophet paints a despairing picture of God’s wrath and the resulting “distress, anguish, trouble, darkness and gloom.”
Let’s face it. There’s a lot of gloom out there. Our kids are generally more depressed, anxious, and despairing than ever before, and many are acting out in unhealthy ways. The world they encounter can be a vicious place. It’s easy to see how kids may view the world in much the same way Zephaniah did. And, like Zephaniah, there is an excellent opportunity to paint a different picture here. A picture painted with a new image of great hope for our kids rooted in what God has to say about them in the heavy context of today’s pressures.
As I was reading through Zephaniah 3 one Saturday morning, I was deeply impacted by these verses. I decided to depict God’s heart for his children in a vivid way for my kids. I went into each child’s room and started jumping, dancing, singing, and shouting phrases of endearment like, “I love you! I love you! You are precious to me! Whoo-hoo!!! You are my child in whom I’m well pleased!”
My kids peeked out from under their covers, startled from relaxed and groggy to wide-eyed at this unusual theatrical performance. It had far more hilarious, reckless abandon than social decorum, slick dance moves, or anything they might regard as “cool dad behavior.” Not exactly John Travolta turned preacher. But the point was obvious. It was a Golden Buzzer moment to make it perfectly clear that we join God in passionately delighting in our kids!
12 real-life examples of parents lavishing their kids with “Golden Buzzer” moments
Some Connected Families Certified Parent Coaches join Jim in sharing practical examples of how to lavishly celebrate your kids.
1.A couple of years ago, I read aloud to my boys “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.” I loved the description of the mom. She would get excited about her sons’ somewhat ordinary accomplishments and declare, “It’s a cake day!” and make a cake to celebrate. So I started baking more often to celebrate “ordinary” wins, and the kids even have fun helping me plan and decorate. – Katie Wetsell
2. You could get up early and fix the kids their favorite breakfast on Saturday morning (whipped cream on pancakes? juice in goblets? placemats, and nice dishes?) and celebrate. – Jim Jackson
3. For my kids’ birthdays, I give them a choice between a party, a small trip, or a “Yes day.” They love the concept of a “Yes day” (with parameters around money, distance, etc.) because it’s a whole day where they get to have choices and feel celebrated, known, and loved. –Jessica Brandon
4. I put heart shapes with “I love” statements about my kids on the outside of their doors (I love your curly hair, I love the way you help your sister, I love watching you swim, etc). They left these up until they moved out! – Pam Thompson
5. If your child responds well to questions, you can ask, “When do you feel the most loved by me?” And then dig a little deeper to discover what it is about that activity that feels so affectionate or full of joy? – Jim Jackson
6. I’ve been doing a simple little thing with Bella when I sense that my affectionate words aren’t sinking in and there is a disconnect. I gently ask her if my words went into her heart. If she says no, she pretends to take out a key to the door to her heart, and then she opens the door. Then I whisper my affectionate, apologetic, or forgiving words to her little heart. She closes the door, locks it, and says, “It’s in there, Mom!” It’s been an awesome connection! – (coaching parent)
7. I was driving my kids home from a class during a particularly tough week, and we passed Whole Foods. When the kids asked if we could stop and get a healthy soda, I was about to say, “Not today,” but then I surprised them (and myself!) and turned into the parking lot. The kids cheered, and we picked out sodas and a chocolate bar to share. They were just overjoyed, and their delight filled my heart. I said, “Hey guys, you know things have been kinda tough lately. Today, we are celebrating that even when we are having a tough time, God is with us and can surprise us with His goodness and joy.” It really changed the atmosphere and was such a memorable moment! – Lydia Rex
8. Make arrangements for some of your child’s friends to throw them a random surprise party. Have the friends arrive at a restaurant early and bring some balloons and party horns, and do the surprise when you arrive. – Jim Jackson
9. Wake a child up at night and take them out for a special time with mom or dad. – Pam Thompson
10. My boys always feel like they have gotten the Golden Buzzer when I make their favorite meal (at least twice a month for each of them) or pick up their favorite snack or beverage. Sometimes, I surprise them with an act of service, like doing their laundry when they are having a busy week. My 18-year-old is so grateful when I “borrow” his car, fill up the gas tank, and run it through the car wash just because it is a very rare occasion! Now that he is responsible for these things himself, he has a whole new appreciation for these acts of love. – Marni Love
11. My son loves it when I take an interest in his work and show up to see it in action. He does the light show for the once-a-month concert at church and works really hard that whole week. I take extra care to ensure he’s well-fed and hydrated, and then I attend the show and share my favorite parts. He stands a bit taller that day. – Marni Love
12. Ask your teenage son or daughter to teach you how to play the video game they are playing. It will both shock and excite them to teach YOU something new. Something they thought you didn’t care about that is so much of their world. Or let your teen suggest the movie to watch when you have a “teen night only” movie watching. – Taylor Irby
Show your kids they are valued and loved with their own Golden Buzzer moment
With this in mind, consider when was the last time, amid the gloom, that you sang over your children with shouts of joy! When did they get a Golden Buzzer? Or better yet, ask yourself, when could I give it a try? Could today be the day?
Don’t count on tuna sandwiches and clean laundry to be the sum of your display of love. Golden Buzzer your kids. Show them, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you love and value them just because. And then occasionally let them know it flows from the heart of God.
A coaching client, Becca, was walking her kids through the key points of the gospel a little bit each day, including this verse about the love of God for us:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
She sent this story:
“My kids visibly liked that we are all loved and created in God’s image. I helped them understand what lavish means, and they decided it’s like God’s love is a pool of glitter dumped all over you!“
Her kids intuitively understood God’s glorious, extravagant, joyous love – better than most adults do. And perhaps (especially if you didn’t feel celebrated as a child), as you let God’s Spirit guide you into a random, joyous, even raucous, glittering expression of extravagant love for your child, you just might understand God’s love for you better!
We would love to hear your Golden Buzzer story as you celebrate God’s wonderful love for your whole family. ♥️
Connected Families would like to sincerely thank the parent coaches who contributed to this post. If you’d like more information about any of these contributors, you can check out their websites listed below:
- Katie Wetsell https://www.parentwithhope.org/
- Pam Thompson https://cordsofhopecoaching.com/
- Jessica Brandon http://jessicabrandoncoaching.com
- Marni Love http://www.marnilove.com/
- Taylor Irby https://www.taylorirbycoaching.com/