Connecting with Your Kids

christian family stewardship Jun 25, 2023
Father and son time

James 1:19 - “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”


 

Introduction

Communication is the lifeblood of family life. Teaching your children the essentials of the faith, showing them love and affection, instructing them in anything educational, all of these endeavors require communication between parents and children. In an ideal home situation, children should feel that their parents are approachable, pleasant to speak with, and easy to understand. Whether they are expressing joy and excitement or worries and sorrow, we want our children to know that we are on their team and we value what they have to say. This takes intention and effort. We would like to share some tips with you that we’ve found helpful as we’ve strived to make communicating with our children a priority in our home.

 

Praying Two Ways

Even more important than a child’s relationship with his parents is his relationship with the God who created him. Helping our children learn how to pray and be comfortable going to God in this way is a great gift that we can model (and hopefully help them build their own lifelong habit of prayer). We remind our kids often that they can come to God with anything, anytime and anywhere.

Sometimes we use pre-written prayers to help stir our minds, and other times we pray from the heart. We always pray at meals and bedtime, as well as throughout the day. If something is bothering them, scaring them, or making them happy, we encourage them to talk to God about it. We also pray for our children while we are with them. In this way, our kids more deeply understand our affection for them, our desires for their growth and comfort, and that God loves them dearly.

 

Shared Experiences

The more time you spend with your children, the more opportunities for conversation will present themselves. There are more stories to share, more chances to work together on a skill, and ultimately, more chances to learn about each other as individuals within the family. These opportunities can be spontaneous or planned, simple or elaborate. Most wonderfully, they will bring your family closer and cement in your children’s memories the enjoyment of being together.

 

Everyday Connections

We don’t have to wait for a weekend away to make memories and connections with our kids. In fact, our relationships will be built up most firmly in the ordinariness of the everyday. It’s easy to take a child along with you on errands: getting your tires rotated, grocery shopping, picking up dry cleaning, etc. While you sit in the car or walk around a store, you will have the chance to chat, model how to treat others in difficult situations, practice life skills like budgeting and time management, demonstrate social cues, and help them be comfortable talking with other adults.

How we spend time with our kids will determine the way our relationship takes shape in the future, as well as the relationships they have with their own spouses and children. A child who is welcomed into his parents’ daily lives will be much more likely to include his own children in the same way when he is a father himself. Our children watch us: They pick up on our good habits and our bad ones. They see us when we are constantly on our phones instead of focusing on them. They memorize music playing in the car and quote the TV show that’s on in the background while dinner is being made. With this in mind, it is critical that parents not only intentionally connect with their children, but that they curate other communication being piped into their homes and lives.

 

Being Intentional

Having time that is carved out for meaningful connection is not only good for you as parents, but it is also helpful for children to know that there is a special time and place for them to regularly share their fears, concerns, hopes and dreams with Dad and Mom. This time should be consistent so that they know when it is and what to expect from it. This builds anticipation! On a daily basis, it can be short: Perhaps five to ten minutes in the morning or evening when they get Dad and Mom to themselves. But make sure you plan for extended times as well: a simple afternoon at a local park or a special weekend away with one of the parents.

Don’t feel the need to “make every moment count.” Just focus on the time you’re spending with your son or daughter. This isn’t a chance to give lectures, but for your child to have the opportunity to talk with you and for you to give them your undivided attention and a listening ear (another important skill for them to learn!). If nothing in particular is on their mind and they are having a hard time thinking of things to talk about, you can have a mental list of prepared questions or topics to try and draw them out. You also may have a very chatty child. If this is the case, just listen. They will probably have plenty of stories and questions for you to fill the time!

 

Think Long-Term

Think back to your own childhood. Most likely, the things that stick in your memory most firmly are not the grand lectures and profound tidbits your parents gave you in what they would consider their finest parenting moments. Rather, insignificant interactions and a passing comment often had more of an impact than they could have ever expected. The same is true of your children. The small, daily interactions are what will truly bring you closer. It is the brick-by-brick, day after day conversations that form their minds and hearts and establish your friendship in a profound and deep way. Furthermore, when you are closely connected to your children, you can continue to guide them and give advice well into their adult years as they become parents themselves.

 

Conclusion

Taking the time to connect as a family should be a high priority. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, in fact it should be easy and fun. Make sure to listen to your kids and not take the opportunity to simply lecture or teach them. Ultimately, the most important thing for children to remember about connection is that God is always with them and they can talk to Him in prayer and spend time in His word, anytime and anywhere.

 

Key Points

  • Prayer and being in God’s Word is a great way to build a relationship with your children. Most importantly, it builds their relationship with God, which will continue throughout their lives.
  • Provide opportunities to be available and listen to your children so they are comfortable talking with you about anything, including their struggles and concerns.
  • Sharing experiences with your children is a great way to strengthen your relationship with them.

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