November 1, 2021

Play With Your Child

Written by Boyd Bailey

Tenderly caring for a child is tenderly caring for Jesus.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 1, 2021

Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable like a little child, you will never be able to enter in. Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this little child is the greatest one in heaven’s kingdom realm. And if you tenderly care for this little one on my behalf, you are tenderly caring for me. Matthew 18:3-5, TPT

As a young dad my father-in-law, James, modeled for me the art of playing with my children. He had the inside track on facilitating smiles, since he was granddaddy and his one-word job description was fun. Because of my own insecurities and lack of a role model growing up, I did not really know what I was doing—no surprise! Granddaddy helped me be a better daddy. 

With a self-imposed lack of curiosity or imagination, I took myself way too seriously. I needed to loosen up. I needed to laugh more. And when my children got on my nerves, I needed to learn to come up with creative ways to have fun, enjoy each other and enjoy life. So, I changed my approach. At the beach, instead of glaring at my watch, painstakingly waiting for their naptime so I could do what I wanted to do, I began to make up games. One hilarious hit was Baby Minnows: In waist deep water, I tickled the girls’ legs. They giggled with an innocent glee.

I found out something else about myself; I discovered that I was so consumed by work—I had forgotten how to play which made me a bore. But when I gave myself permission to play, with the freedom to love my children well and have fun—I really began to know their hearts, which translated into life-giving joy. And, they felt loved like they needed to be loved. Best of all, my joy gave them permission to have fun!

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them” (Hosea 11:4).

I wonder if one of the reasons Jesus wanted the children to come to Him was to remind me to kneel down on their level and accept them with open arms. And conversely, as a child of God, to approach Jesus with my fears, insecurities and sins for acceptance, comfort and healing. Astoundingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, when I play with my child on my heavenly Father’s behalf, it’s as if I’m playing with Jesus. Tenderly caring for them is tenderly caring for Him!

Here’s what I am learning: playing is preparation for the hard work of raising. It builds trust. It grows understanding. It shows love. And it’s good for a healthy soul.  Playing is not to be outsourced, but to be the source of customized love that is a unique gift that only a parent can provide. It can feel like hard work to have fun, but it’s worth the effort to prepare for play. You will feel God’s pleasure as you experience adolescent pleasures. Are you playing with your child? If not, may I recommend the Baby Minnow game, complete with guaranteed giggles! 

A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing” (Proverbs 17:22, AMPC).


Heavenly Father, renew my childlike spirit to laugh and play with my child, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.


What is one simple, fun game I can experience with my child today?

Related Reading

Matthew 19:14; Mark 9:35; 1 Peter 2:2

Worship Resource

Tori Kelly: What A Beautiful Name 


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