Showing steadfast love is a beautiful way to invite our children into a relationship founded on trust and love. Steadfast love is unwavering, never changing. The Bible paints a detailed picture of how God shows His steadfast love and how we can demonstrate that love to others, especially our children. Therefore, it is important that we as parents understand the differences between boys and girls and how they will best give and receive steadfast love.
Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” It is clear that we are beautifully and intentionally created differently as males and females. God gave both males and females unique ways of interacting with the world. Because of this, mothers and fathers will demonstrate steadfast love to their children in different, but equally important, ways. Likewise, there are differences between boys and girls. Our children will tend to give and receive love in ways that reflect his or her masculinity or femininity.
The Search for Steadfast Love
Are my parents always there for me? Do their eyes light up whenever they see me? Do I hold a special place in Mom and Dad’s heart that no one else can hold?
Sons and daughters need to know above all else that they are precious to their parents. Kids need to know that there is nothing that can be done to earn a parent’s love, and nothing can ever remove it. Like God’s love for us, it is always promised.
Let’s explore how the differences between boys and girls impact what they tend to need in order to feel loved. Understanding what they need will help us to know how they might demonstrate steadfast love to others.
About Our Daughters
What She Needs to Feel Loved
- Connection – Daughters will primarily be concerned with whether or not she is connecting with the people around her. She craves emotional intimacy in her relationships. Glenn Stanton states in his book Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, “Intimacy is a gift they [daughters] give to and receive from others. They will decide who is safe and trustworthy with such intimacies, both physical and emotional… In fact, love and friendship can only be defined as real intimacy when they are freely given.”
- Community – Girls tend to place great importance on the people in her circle. Sharing experiences with her friends and family help her to feel included and loved. The friendships that she forges at a young age can set the foundation for rich, fulfilling friendships for the rest of her life.
- Communication – Girls are typically much more verbal than boys and tend to paint a picture with words. Talking is a significant way for your daughter to process information and share her thoughts. When she shares her thoughts and feelings with you, your daughter needs to feel like she has been heard. Affirming your daughter’s feelings is essential in showing her steadfast love.
- Affirmation – A daughter needs to be affirmed for who she is. Glenn Stanton describes it well, “God has given your girl a combination of gifts, talents, passions, and personality that no one else in time has or will have. She is mold-breaking amazing.” Your daughter needs to know that she is beautiful, but also needs to know that she is smart and strong. Be sure to praise her when she makes wise choices. Point out when she is doing a great job or when she has a particular skill. Boost her confidence in who she is and the woman she is becoming.
- Security – Girls need a sense of security in their life. Showing her steadfast love means protecting her from danger and providing both physical and emotional safety in her daily life. Knowing that she is safe with you will help her courage and confidence grow and open herself to relationships with her family and others.
- Physical Affection – Girls, like boys, need to be shown appropriate physical touch. Hugs, especially, can go a long way in helping a daughter feel connected to her parents.
How She Expresses Steadfast Love
- Verbally – As mentioned earlier, girls tend to be verbal communicators. Your daughter may choose to show steadfast love by comforting and encouraging others through the words she says.
- Nurturing and Caregiving – Daughters tend to be more nurturing and are natural caregivers. Your daughter may tend to show her nurturing tendencies during play by being a “mother” to a doll or other toy, or trying to help take care of a sick or injured person. Our daughters tend to be very aware of other people’s emotions, and she may choose to respond to them in a way that is very caring in order to show love.
About Our Sons
What He Needs to Feel Loved
- Making a Difference – Boys want to make a difference in the world in some way. Your son needs to know he is important and is making an impact. He wants the world to know that he is strong, smart, and capable of doing things. Glenn Stanton states, “If they [sons] don’t get approval for the ways they are important, primarily from dad, they’ll be ruled by the pursuit of significance for the rest of their lives – usually in unhealthy and sometimes manipulative ways.” Be sure to praise him when he makes a positive impact or does something well. Tell him when he has had wisdom in a situation or when he has shown skill in something he has done. Affirm him and boost his confidence!
- Respect – Sons need to feel respected. He will especially place great value on the respect that he receives from his parents. Receiving respect from siblings and friends is also very important to his confidence. Likewise, teaching him to show respect to those around him will help him grow and show steadfast love to others.
- Discipline – Boys also need a sense of discipline. Sons want to know the right thing to do and the right time to do it. He needs to have the good in him called out and needs to be challenged to do better when he has fallen short. It is important for parents to affirm their son’s masculinity and assure him that he is smart and strong. Compliment his strengths. Encourage him to do better in areas where he needs to grow.
- Leadership – Boys tend to want to be seen as leaders. Leadership is one avenue for them to gain respect from their elders and their peers. Sons need to be taught servant leadership, especially from their dads, to effectively grow in the area of leadership. Dads can teach them to be prepared and to take control of a situation when the need arises. For instance, if people are gathering for a Bible study and there are not enough chairs, he might go and get more chairs. He takes control of the situation without waiting for someone else to do it. Furthermore, breaking down the barriers of perceived gender roles is also an important leadership skill that a father can teach his son. For example, he might clear, stack, or wash plates after dinner. Showing a servant’s heart in these actions will help the son learn to serve others as an act of steadfast love.
How He Expresses Steadfast Love
- Actions – Boys tend to communicate verbally less than girls. When your son speaks, he is likely direct and to the point. Our sons tend to show love and support by actions rather than affirming others with words. He might perform acts of service, give a hug, or spend quality time to show his love.
- Building and Fixing – Boys tend to love to build and fix things. Your son might show his love by trying to repair broken items or create things. For instance, he might try to glue a broken bowl back together or he might design a piece of artwork to brighten his mom’s day.
- Protecting – Our sons are created to be protectors. He will especially want to make sure that his family is safe and secure. For instance, your son might show his love by shoveling the driveway so that no one slips on the ice and injures themselves.
Mom and Dad are Unique Too
Mothers and fathers are created with different and unique gifts just as our sons and daughters are. Mothers and fathers will have different ways of demonstrating steadfast love to their kids because of the unique ways in which God created males and females.
Glenn Stanton asserts, “Kids need to experience the steadfast love of their dad as a man. Likewise, they need to experience the steadfast love of their mother as a woman.” What each parent – as a man and woman – brings to the table is vitally important to the growth and development of their children. The different ways that mothers and fathers can each show steadfast love to their kids will help them to grow up into confident adults.
Regardless of whether you’re a mom or a dad, the most important thing is to show your kids that there is nothing in your life more precious than him or her. Let your kids know that he or she has exclusive access to you that no one else has.
Steadfast Love During Tough Times
Life’s tough situations are an opportunity to teach children how to demonstrate steadfast love to others. When these circumstances arise, kids should never be expected to shoulder part of the burden. But our sons and daughters can be encouraged to show compassion to a parent after the death of a grandparent, or to a sibling after the loss of a pet. Demonstrating compassionate acts, whether by sharing a hug or providing acts of service, is a great way to show steadfast love to the family.
The differences between boys and girls can have an impact on how they choose to demonstrate steadfast love to others. Ask your son or daughter what they would like to do to show someone steadfast love in those situations. Support them while they are learning how to do this. Encourage your kids in their show of compassion and caring.
Our children are beautifully created to receive and show steadfast love in unique ways. Knowing the differences between boys and girls and how your son or daughter best gives and receives your love will help them be secure in the knowledge that they are precious in your eyes. Through your steadfast love, you are teaching your children that they are God’s beloved.
© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.
 Stanton, Glenn T. (2011). Secure Daughters Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children Into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity. Multnomah Books.
 G. Stanton (personal communication, March 3, 2020).