This is part 1 of a 2 part series: Part 2
Part 1: The Big Picture
Right now, we are all trying to manage with the family home due to the coronavirus. As parents, you might also be struggling as you navigate your own work (or lack of it) while educating, organizing, and occupying your kids. You are likely suffering from quarreling and stir-craziness. But do you find yourself trying to maintain order rather than maintain relationship? Whether it’s life in quarantine or not, the struggle tends to be fairly similar: we are tempted to look for ways to occupy our kids more than looking for ways to engage with them.
Consider this, we can focus on the gray cloud (kids being home/schoolwork, etc.), or we can look for the silver lining (a great opportunity to spend time/develop closer ties with them). I am a gray cloud kind of person so I need a little push. Maybe you do, too? Here are some principles for how we can get closer to our kids when we are home together.
First, there is always a need to develop stronger relationships with our kids. Being at home together gives us an unexpected opportunity to do so. Use it! Decide that you will look for new ways to draw them out and engage with them.
Second, Deuteronomy 6 sets a mentality of looking for ways to not just talk with our kids, but to point them to the Lord. Good questions and conversations can reveal what our kids believe about life, themselves, and God. It provides insight to where they struggle with disbelief, secret fears or insecurities, sinful tendencies, or peer pressure. Having meaningful conversations with them will foster a sense of feeling known and understood by you—and the Lord. Pray for ways to woo them to wanting to know Christ personally. Here are a few suggestions:
- Challenge yourself to ask thoughtful questions about their faith. Find out what they are thinking and feeling about God. Use apps, aides, and conversation starters that are readily available and modify them as needed.
- Consider follow-up questions that keep your kids sharing.
- Ask yourself what their answers reveal about them.
- Look for ways to encourage their openness.
- Find something to affirm in them, while also looking for ways to personally connect and draw them to the Lord.
Third, think outside the box. Be thoughtful and creative in the way you set up family time and routines in your home. Intentionally turn off electronics during certain time periods and offer something in its place. Gather together for an activity. Consider your kids’ ages, interests, and your home set up. What will engage them? If something you try is a flop, don’t let that discourage you. Success comes by trial and error, so keep trying. Some of the activities I have proposed in my home have failed epically, and others have been a hit. Even if an idea doesn’t pan out, your attempt instills the value of personal connection in your home. In a second blog, I will offer some specific suggestions to get you started.
Fourth, when trying to have deeper relationships in your home, be okay with resistance. Not all kids (especially teens) will appreciate what you’re doing, and may do their best to avoid entering in. Your children may complain, tell you they don’t want to, give short, dismissive answers or sit and refuse to engage, but they are still benefiting from seeing an adult who wants to be with them and “do life” with them. Though it looks like it is fruitless, do not grow weary in the pursuit. Try using humor in response to resistance rather than frustration. Be positive and patient even when they make it unpleasant. The goal is long-term bridge building though it may seem like a failure in the short-term.
Our hope is not in positive attitudes, or grateful children. It is unlikely they will appreciate us disconnecting the wi-fi so we can do family time, but it will be worthwhile. Our hope is that they will see we care and want to know them. Push through any negative opposition you receive, and choose to believe your children are worth it. Do not lose sight that, no matter how uninterested your child or teen seems to be in what you are doing, it is modeling to them the value of relationship. After all, isn’t this how Christ pursues us?
This is part one of a two part series: Part 2