When a Child is Truly Seen

Written by Tim Honchel
Matthew 19 tells a time when people brought their children to see Jesus, “but the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" In the 15th century, an English proverb arose that I think captures the disciples’ logic: “children should be seen and not heard.”

The Challenge
While that way of thinking may have fallen out of favor, it is still very easy for a child to go both unseen and unheard in our modern busy world. Whether it’s our focus on important adult matters, a child’s small stature that hides them below eye level, or not knowing quite how to relate or connect with someone so young, we often miss opportunities to truly see children, encourage their growth, and share in their joy.

The Adults Who Saw Us
I can vividly remember the adults who saw me and made the effort to draw out a shy child and adolescent finding his way in the world. There was a teacher, a youth pastor, a friend of my parents, an uncle, a college student who volunteered to lead a teen small group. They looked past my youth, quirks, and flaws and decided to care. They never gave up on me. They made me feel like I mattered and belonged. I felt safe enough to let them experience who I really was and they accepted and encouraged me. With time, I could talk to them about whatever I was going through and I grew stronger from their guidance and support.
A volunteer and child compete in the Play Impossible Ball challenge at KIND
Our Turn
Now you and I have the honor and responsibility to be those adults for the children in our families, communities, and at KIND. I love the way the kids’ eyes light up when I take the time to notice them, to talk, to play. Then out of nowhere, they open up and share something unexpected, and we have the chance to talk about it. I get to watch them grow into amazing people and be a part of their life story.

First and Most Important Step
We may sometimes feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, struggling to remember what it was like being a child, or believing that too much has changed since we were kids. I believe what is most important is that you care and you are there. That’s what a child will pick up on most and the rest you can learn with time. Start by seeing.
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