I've been having a lot of interesting conversations with parents lately about what children need versus what they want. This distinction seems to get confused in modern culture.
My youngest, for example, has a tendency to get overly-tired. Just like his dad, he'll fight and fight and fight sleep, looking for one more reason to stay awake. He thinks he needs to nurse. He thinks he needs to crawl. What he truly needs is to be swaddled to keep from scratching at his own face until his body settles down enough to rest.
The middle child is a little more self-aware. He'll crawl up in my lap with determination, “I need mama. I need sit.” Two years old is a difficult age, bursting with emotion and discovery. After the end of a taxing day, he knows himself well enough to know that he requires warmth and rejuvenation.
That's the common thread, really. Children need love. Tough love. Quiet love. Steadfast love. Physical love. The kind of love that indicates a deep, abiding concern for their welfare. The long-term-thinking kind of love that transcends immediate desires.
Sometimes love can even look like restraint. It can appear that we're choosing other things over our children, when really we're saying “no” to what we want in order to say “yes” to the things that they need.
You don't need to seek out ALL the detailed answers regarding what your children need.
That's my message to you this time of year.