We can show our love for our children in many ways, from patiently getting up in the middle of the night when they are babies, to providing for their physical and material needs throughout their childhood. However, the most fundamental way we should show our love is by fostering a deep concern for their souls. This is perhaps obvious to the Christian mother and yet how easily this aspect of love is suppressed and pushed to the side by the day to day demands of caring for our children. J C Ryle argues in The Duties of Parents that our child's soul must be top of our list of considerations for their welfare:
Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love them, think often of their souls. No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die. The world, with all its glory, shall pass away; the hills shall melt; the heavens shall be wrapped together as a scroll; the sun shall cease to shine. But the spirit which dwells in those little creatures, whom you love so well, shall outlive them all, and whether in happiness or misery (to speak as a man) will depend on you.So loving our children is hard work. It will sometimes hurt, as it is certainly tempting to take the easy road and pander to our children's wants to attain a bit of peace now. As they get older, it will be difficult to sometimes deny them the things the world values, but as Ryle says we must ask in everything "How will this affect their souls?". Let's determine in love not to hide from our children "that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy, — that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul."
This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"
Soul love is the soul of all love. To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness — to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has but one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy, — that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.
A true Christian must be no slave to fashion, if he would train his child for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children’s souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is short, — the fashion of this world passeth away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth, — for God, rather than for man, — he is the parent that will be called wise at last.