Establishing strong relationships with each of our kids is super duper important. It not only makes our whole family healthy, but it also makes it easier to transfer our values, character, and skills to them.
But there’s one teensy little problem:
Sometimes, we damage the very relational bridges we are supposed to be building with our kids.
How do we do this? By being irritated and annoyed at their immaturity and constantness. By not bothering to take interest in their interests. And worst of all, by saying things to them that damage their souls and cause them to harbor resentment toward us.
I’ll admit that it can be very easy to do this. If you’ve never been trained on how to raise kids properly, then you may be in the dark about things you should and shouldn’t be doing as a mom!
We want our kids to get their value and worth from us as parents and not from their peers or the media. We want to be able to tell them who they are in Christ and we want them to heed our wisdom! For this to happen, though, we must have strong relational ties with our kids.
If you can sense that your kids don’t love and treasure their relationship with you like you’d want, trust me when I say that I totally understand. But there is a way to reverse this. Equipped with vision in mind, we move forward in prayer and full-fledged attempts to win our kids’s hearts
As a mom who spent years trying to figure out how to connect with my kids, and also trying to get past my disinterest in connecting with them (being transparent here!), I found a couple gems in the dust. And through trial and error, I began to see two distinct ways that I could win my kids’ hearts.
Are you ready to win your kids’ hearts? Here are two easy, highly actionable things you can start doing today.
Spend quality time listening/playing
Even as adults, we appreciate when people take time to listen to us and hear our hearts. Sometimes we may need to get something off our chest, or maybe we just need a word of encouragement. And when we connect with people in this way, it has a way of strengthening our relationships.
Likewise, when we have fun together with our friends or family members, it strengthens our relational bonds. Some of the strongest relational bonds I have in my life are with my former college teammates. Even though many of us haven’t talked in years, there’s a level of connectedness there that doesn’t exist with other relationships because we played together. A lot.
And so it is with children. Here are some ideas for how you can implement this practice today:
Purposefully carve out time where it’s just you and your child and you can sit and listen to her. It doesn’t have to be hours; maybe even just 10-20 minutes. Maybe you can go to the park, go on a walk, or go get ice cream. It would be a special time for you to hear what’s going on in her heart, what’s going on at school, etc. Let her talk! And don’t interrupt her. 🙂
Be an undistracted listening ear, and you can ask her what she thinks and feels about the things she’s experiencing. Be excited about what excites her. You may choose to offer gentle advice, but more than anything, seek to connect to and understand. There is nothing that strengthens bonds quite like being understood, and even children are aware of this.
You may be surprised to find out that you don’t know your child as well as you thought! Quality listening time can tune you in on how to better relate to your child. It also provides great insight on how to specifically pray for each child.
If you have little babies and toddlers, you’ll find that they absolutely LOVE quality time! All it takes is for you to sit on the floor for about 20-30 minutes and just play with them. Play with blocks, stuffed animals, and toys. Read books and sing songs (my tod’s personal favorite). If you really want to connect with them and for them to love their relationship with you, get into their world! And if you dread playing with your toddler because you think you’re gonna be bored out of your mind (which is what I thought), you might be surprised and realize that you enjoy connecting way more than you think!
If you have an infant, spend some intentional snuggle time with him or her. I know you probably do this anyways :). But I’ve found that with every child I’ve added, my responsibilities increase and it can be easy to let my baby just sit in his bouncer or lay sleeping by himself.
I can tell you honestly that playing with my children has been the #1 way I’ve been able to increase my influence in their lives. It’s like I have their little hearts in my hands. I notice they’re more open to my correction, easy to deal with, and they relate to their siblings with kindness. When I take the time to get into their world, I feel like it gives them a sense of security and they perceive that they are important, welcomed, and cherished.
Take interest in their interests
Every child has unique interests. For example, my second daughter loves to make mud. Her little heart has swelled with joy at the times that I’ve shown interest in her mud-making by providing what she needs. And to take it even further, I’ve noticed that when I actually engage and play with her instead of just watch her play, her overall disposition toward me softens significantly. Why is this? I believe that every person has a desire to feel that they are significant and that their lives have purpose. It’s part of our who we are, and it comes from God. By taking interest in what your kids are interested in, you are establishing a secure presence in their lives and also helping them establish a healthy perception of their worth.
I would suggest starting with something that you know your child likes. If you have no clue, maybe you can start by just spending quality time with your child and progress from there! Once you find out, I would encourage you to purchase (within your means) what you can to help them grow in this area. And take it a step further…spend time doing the activity with them. Over time, you will be surprised and delighted to see that the relational bridges have been established and that you can easily transfer your values over them 🙂
I’m not promising miracles overnight, especially if you have severely damaged relationships. Those take time and prayer to heal. But we do want to make sure we are using wisdom as mamas and not leaving the area of influence to chance. There are so many things that pull at our kiddos hearts nowadays! Let’s be diligent before the Lord to fulfill our duties as moms to the best of our ability.
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