Your children will never forget the special times they spend with you. Just like the rest of us, children thrive on personal attention, and if they don’t get it, they feel bad, unimportant, or even rejected. You don’t always have to spend a great deal of time with children to make them know you love and appreciate them, but you do have to spend some—and the quality of that time is just as important as the quantity.

Time spent with your children is not only the greatest gift you can give them, it’s also the greatest investment you can make in them. Nothing else will make a more lasting difference in their lives. As someone once wisely said, “Your children need your presence more than your presents.” Play games with your children, read with them, hug them, encourage them, enjoy being with them. Go for walks or just sit around together and talk. Ask questions and listen to their answers—really listen.

If you’re like most parents, you have more demands on your time than you can possibly meet, and time with your children gets crowded out when emergencies come up. You rationalize that there’s always tomorrow for them, but your children need you today. If a genuine emergency happens, you may need to reschedule your time with your children, but don’t cancel it.

In addition to the time you spend with your children, you also should set aside some time to pray for them. Praying for your children is a wonderful way to gain a better understanding of them. God is able to show you things about them that you could never learn any other way.

Many parents of grown children will tell you that their greatest regret is that they didn’t spend more time with their children when they were small. You’ll have to sacrifice other things to do it, and in the beginning, you may feel it isn’t the best use of your time, but keep it up and you won’t be sorry. Every minute you give your children is an investment in the future. The rewards will last for eternity.

Being there for your children makes a great difference in their lives, even when you don’t think you are doing a lot for them or accomplishing much.