Here are five ways you can grow closer to your children. Can you think of some other ways?
Play with Them
I remember when my daughter was young and I was invited to a “tea party” with her. Even though the tea was invisible, I still acted like I drank it. I even wore a tutu with her once (although I will deny it publically), and she got a real hoot out of that. I was willing to play with her and jump into her imaginary world. That’s okay. It drew us closer together, and those memories still linger today and will forever. Perhaps if she has her own daughter someday, it will bring back some precious memories. When my son was younger, we went to the park and got on the swings next to each other, crashing into one another (boys are so different!). He laughed so hard, I thought he’d fall out of his swing. He has his own children today but still remembers playing “crash dummies” with me in the park. These things drew me closer together with my son and daughter, and the memories will never fade away.
The Consultant Parent
When my now-grown son struggled with homework, I resisted the urge to do it for him and refused to be the “search and rescue” parent, bailing him out time and again. I wanted him to learn to solve problems on his own. I also refused to be the “drill sergeant” intimidating him to get his work done. Instead, I was the consultant parent and handled homework (or other problems) like this: “I see it’s really hard. I remember when I was your age, struggling with math (or whatever it is), and this is what I did.” I would then jump to the back of the book and look at examples on how to solve the problems. I was a consultant and helped only if they asked.
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Listening and Asking
I think that we should always listen to our children and put the newspaper down, turn the TV off, or get off the internet if our children are talking to us. I need to give them my full attention and eye contact as a sign of respect, showing them I value them and that what they have to say is important. I also like to ask them open-ended questions that don’t require a “yes” or “no” so I can find out how their day went, what happened, or if there is something on their mind. For example, instead of asking, “How was your day” (they would say “fine”), I would rather ask them, “What happened today at school?”
Hugs and Kisses
I know teens might squirm at this, but inwardly they crave your attention just as a younger child does. I read studies about a nursery in Romania during World War II, which said some of the orphaned children in the nursery were dying even though they had adequate food, clothing, and shelter. Then one nurse decided to spend time with each child every day and hold them, hug them, and kiss them. These children started to put on weight, were more active, and started improving in their health. Love is so important to our health that we sometimes fail to see the connection. God made us to have relationships, first with Him but also with one another.
Laugh and Play
I somewhat touched on this already, but this is a bit different. Laugh at their jokes. Tell them jokes. Run through the sprinkler with them. Have a pillow fight with them. Wash the car together and soak one another. Jump in the pool and have a water fight with them. Get the squirt guns out and squirt one another with water. Tickle them. Spend quality time, at least fifteen minutes, with each child, reading, playing, and talking to only that one child. Special time with each child will help you draw closer to them.
Children are a gift from God. We must treat these precious ones, from newborns to teens and even into adulthood, with respect, love, and understanding, with the realization that they, too, were created in the image of God and that He loves them more than we ever could.