Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sharing Footprints -- The Joy of Relationship
Over the Years I have taught in various Bible clubs, Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools and have noticed something about relationships and credibility. At some point, we would usually have a purely social activity -- a picnic, an outing, a party. Fun, lighthearted times of laughter together. The day after, we met with an entirely different group of kids.
We would greet each other like long lost buddies, excitedly reliving the day before. And, as we settled into the Bible teaching they listened with a focus that we could not have forced or scared into them two days previously even if we tried.
What had changed? Nothing, and everything. In order to impact a child's life, your own child or any child, you must have a relationship to build credibility for your message.
Think about your childhood memories and the ones that linger usually give a glimpse at your relationships. Memories aren't usually about a cake, a car, a trip, or a holiday, they are about the relationships behind those things, the emotions that we experienced with other people in our lives. We need to constantly build positive experiences to help kids have an openness to us and to continually remind us why we love our kids so much.
The days can pass too quickly with only conversations about schoolwork and chores. If we speak only in commands, we have missed out.
Some ways that have worked for us to cultivate joyful relationships with our kids:
- Designated family time -- Tuesday night game night and Thursday night pizza and a movie. We all look forward to these each week and build great memories and times of togetherness.
- Bedtime -- My favorite time of day. We spend time with each of our children one-on-one in their beds. Each has different rituals of snuggles and good-nights, nose rubs, prayers, tickles, stories, memory verses, and always conversation. It takes us more than an hour usually to finish saying good-night to all our kids, but I wouldn't trade those minutes for the world.
- One-on-one -- I spend a set time each weekend with my 9 year old daughter. She seems to get lost in the shuffle the easiest and I needed a scheduled time with her -- it has been wonderful! Other times I pull one in to help with chores or cooking alongside me. When shopping we will try to take a child along to get some special time together. Snatching those little moments throughout each day.
- Take a breath -- Sometimes just stopping for a moment to look changes my perspective. I love my kids, I know I do, but sometimes I forget to remember it. Just look. Their cute smile, sweet expressions, tender action, spirited laugh, inventive playfulness, whatever it is that draws you to them. Take a minute to look and love them all the more.
- Say "Yes" -- This has stuck with me ever since reading The Strong Family by Charles Swindoll in college. If you can't think of a good reason to say 'no' then say 'yes.' They have such great ideas and I need to remember not to get hung up on my adult, excessive practicality and enjoy life with them. Build that fort, read that book, stop at the park for a few minutes. It does not need to take long, just do it!
- Be silly -- We love to turn up the music and dance together. Brooke and Nathan love spinning around in my arms to our worship music at bedtime. We also like to talk with various accents now and then. Sometimes a pirate, sometimes a friendly Southern drawl, sometimes a British lady, and sometimes a foreign language, or even a made up one. It lightens the mood and always captures a smile.
If we keep our joy and love growing it will help in the rest of our parenting endeavors, like the most important task we have -- sharing our faith with our kids (more to come . . .)