As Christians we hear and see this word connection used in a variety of ways. With God, our spouses, children, school, church, community, but how does this play out in our relationships?
Connection is protecting the people and things that we LOVE by creating trust, safety and a sense of belonging. How do we know if we are connected? What happens if disconnection occurs.
Loving Like Our Heavenly Father
Of course our kids know we love them, right? After all, we sacrifice to send them to private school because we care about their education, we plan special trips, we provide for them, etc.
For most of our kids, they hear daily, “I love you!”
But what about when they come home with a poor grade, fight with their siblings, disrespect and dishonor us or even hurt others that we love? This is our opportunity to keep loving them, like our Heavenly Father does for us. He will never leave us nor forsake us- Hebrews 13:5
Healthy relationships truly are the most valuable, meaningful, and satisfying of human experiences (Silk, Keep Your Love On) This happens through connections. Here are 3 keys to connecting with our children.
1. Give Them Time & Know Their Love Language
Create family traditions and rituals for everyone to look forward to, such as Friday night pizza & movie night, ice skating on New Year’s Day (this is one of ours). Invite friends to join in and have fun together. We model what it is like to have a good time and enjoy one another.
During the week when everyone is headed in dramatically different directions, take some extra time at bedtime or in the morning to connect. Actively listen to our children when they are ready to talk, even if it is at our bedtime. When our kids are not ready to talk about themselves, we can talk with them about our day or by being present to them, in other words, “ showing up” to let them know they are valued by us and are worthy of our time.
Kids have Love Languages too! Find out what everyone’s Love Language is and post it on the refrigerator. Communicate about love languages and practice not only with our spouse but also with our kids. This is where they learn to Love others the way others receive love well, while preparing them for their own marriage relationship. Plus, it brings lots of love and joy into the home.
Time in prayer is another way to connect. Families who pray together stay together. Regularly ask your kids how you can pray for them or for one of their friends. Naturally, disconnection happens when we live together but never spend any quality time together nor show love for one another.
2. Be Vulnerable
God is Perfect! We are imperfect, make mistakes and even sin. As parents, one way to connect with our kids is to share our own struggles and weaknesses. Particularly, when it comes to our interactions with them. If we said something hurtful, expressed our anger inappropriately, or shut-down for a while, this creates disconnection. It is healthy to become vulnerable and brave and openly admit to others when we are wrong and to show them areas where God is working in our lives.
Confessing our wrongdoings and asking for forgiveness from them and from our Lord Jesus Christ models repentance. This brings healing and restoration to our relationships. And it sends a message on “how to clean up our messes when we make them.” We all mess up at times and rely on the Lord to be our strength! Usually kids want to do better than their parents. When their parents have exposed their own hearts, kids learn to do the same and therefore have better connections with people. This process of learning equips our children to deal with their own struggles by receiving help from others, but it also teaches children not to repeat the mistakes of their parents.
3. Teach Heart-To-Heart Communication
Reaching our kids’ hearts is difficult and without the above 2 keys in place, maybe impossible. Once we believe that our kids are not purposely trying to “mess up,” then we are able to speak truth to them--the truth of what and who God says they are. By asking questions first and then PATIENTLY and QUIETING listening (yes, just listening………. not telling them what they need to do!) Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom and in all your wisdom get understanding.”Those questions could be: What do you love about your life? What is the hardest thing about your life right now? What areas of your life are you doing well at? What ways do you see God working in your life? What is going on with your friendships right now? What is happening in your life that you are excited about?
Invite questions from your kids about your own life and be willing to share. Have heart-to-heart conversations! Create a safe environment to disagree. Ask more questions and allow them to explore difficult issues with you. All the while loving them and staying present. Communication exposes what is going on inside the heart. Jesus said” out of the mouth the heart speaks.”