Do You Desire To Bring Your Child Into The Kingdom?

It's hard enough to be a Christian parent in this world. How do we combat the forces of evil while at the same time raise our children to desire to walk in God's light? By seeking His face, His Word and inspiration from each other as we stumble through this parenting process together. You will find all the instruction, encouragement and resources you need right here at The Greatest Mission Trip You'll Ever Take to help you be the most effective witness to your child that God would have you be. Look around and come back often. Let's learn together.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

3 Ideas For Opening Communication Lines

A recent mother-daughter outing resulted in this snapshot

My daughter recently shared a discussion she was part of in her youth group, where the girls were asked who they would turn to if they needed to talk about a problem or concern. Most of the girls said they would turn to a girlfriend, or maybe even a specific teacher or coach - not unusual responses. But one girl surprised her peers with her answer.

She would go to her parents.

Most of the group replied with a “You’re kidding” or “Seriously?” in response to her answer, somewhat dumbfounded that any teenage girl could have such a relationship. Then, as my daughter reported it, many of them remarked how they wish they had that kind of openness with their mom or dad.

Research studies show that our children want that kind of relationship with us, but we have either believed cultural perceptions, gotten ourselves too busy or allowed our own personal faulty thinking to intervene with connecting with our kids.

If we desire to share our faith with our children, if it’s our goal that they learn about the Good News of Jesus Christ, if we want them to experience a personal relationship with a Savior, then we have to open up communication lines with our kids so we have those opportunities to share.

Below are three ideas for doing just that. No rocket science here, folks. Sometimes we just need reminders to do what works.

Schedule a regular parent-child day
I emphasize the word ‘schedule’ here. If your calendar looks anything like our family’s, this activity just won’t happen of its own accord. I also want to emphasize the word ‘regular.’ You determine what would work for you, then tell your child what day(s) are going to be your special get-togethers. Plan with your child what you’re going to do and how long you’ll get to spend with each other.

Make it something that would be totally enjoyable for your child. There shouldn’t be any hidden agenda, such as an educational purpose or a hoped-for spiritual breakthrough. Save those for other times. The goal is to allow you and your child to relax together, encourage conversation, and to get to know each other.

My daughter and I get together once a week, usually over a meal somewhere. With her work schedule and my jam-packed calendar, Thursdays are typically what work best, although we’re flexible if we need to be. Three Thursdays a month we stay local, grabbing a quick bite and spending maybe an hour or so talking. Once a month we make it an all-day affair, throwing in a shopping trip to a mall or something. Spending money is actually optional, but we enjoy trying to find a ridiculous clearance price on an article of clothing, smelling the newest scents at Yankee Candle Co., or making wisecracks about how much of the Victoria’s Secrets model’s beauty is actually natural.

Take advantage of at-home quiet times
Sometimes these are spontaneous and sometimes they can be planned if you know you’re family’s calendar well enough. This is one-on-one time where other family members are gone, or where the rest of the family knows this is your special time together and won’t interrupt you inordinately.

Do an activity of shared interest. Bake a batch of cookies. Build a lean-to. Have a tea party. Erect a race track for a ball bearing. Just you and your child. Have fun, laugh, talk and play together. Relax. Open yourself up for sharing and connecting.

Nobody else in our house particularly likes sci-fi the way my youngest son and I do. We like watching Star Trek. I wouldn’t call us Trekkies, but we definitely share nerdish qualities that the rest of the family just doesn’t get. Same thing with movies based on Marvel comics. Stan Lee is a world-class cultural icon in our eyes. Sometimes we’ll discuss certain things during the TV show or movie, but most of the conversation comes afterwards when we share favorite lines of dialogue, cool action scenes or pretend to zap each other with spidey-goop from our wrists.

Plan those spontaneous moments
Yes, that sounds like an oxymoron. It’s not very spontaneous if you have to plan it, is it? What I’m talking about is springing a surprise on your child that you knew about ahead of time, perhaps as you woke up that morning and decided that you could put aside your usual chores for the afternoon and spend some time with your child.

These are snippets of time together, designed strictly to have a moment of fun in the midst of the typical day. Go for a bike ride. Dash up to Dairy Queen for a Dilly Bar. Play H-O-R-S-E at the basketball court. Go to the playground and dare to go down the slide with your kid. Take your teen out for a driving lesson. Go for a walk.

The overriding theme to these ideas is to have fun and RELAX. You also need to engage with your child. These are times where you want to find out what your child thinks about and what’s going on in his life, not spend time expounding on adult matters.

Connecting with our child one-on-one like this is not about teachable moments, per se. However, regularly interacting with our child like this will open up countless opportunities in the future for sharing what we know is most important: a relationship with a risen Savior.

Related Articles:
Some Interesting Stats For Christian Kids
James 3 - Taming The Tongue

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