Aug 7

My Top 10 Ways to Connect With Your Children

Hey Blog Friends!  It’s so great to sit with you today for a little bit. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee with Italian Sweet Cream flavored creamer in it. Delish! And since it’s soooo hot here in North Carolina, I dropped a few ice cubes in it! Oh the little things in life that bring us pleasure~

Today, I have the pleasure of talking with author, Jeannie Cunnion. She wrote the book Parenting the Wholehearted Child.  Her message is so refreshing in our hurried world of trying to be a perfect parent.  As I was preparing for my chat with her, I remembered something I’d written a few years back about connecting with my children. I wrote this four years ago and even though things have changed in my family, I still agree with the list. I wouldn’t change a thing!

One disclaimer~ This Top 10 List of mine didn’t produce perfect children in my household, in fact, far from it! But it has helped me stay on track and remember what’s important. It’s also helped me communicate to my kids that they are always loved no matter what.  I think if I could add one more to it, it would be about disagreements. Agree to disagree, speak the truth in love, and forgive and move on.

Kids at MK 2014

Dylan (17), Hayden (19), Hayley Grace (13), Blake (21)~ June, 2014

Top Ten Ways to Connect With Your Children

It ranks among one of my top priorities in life. I know my time with them is borrowed. My own mother told me to make the most of the time I have with my children, because it will be gone before I know it. Wow, isn’t that the truth?  But what exactly does it mean “to make the most of the time” we have with our kids?  I think a lot of it has to do with the ways we choose to connect with them.  There are many ways we can find to bond with our children. Here are my Top Ten.

10.  Ignore your cell phone when you are with them. Let it ring and let the caller leave a message!  Send the message to your child that they are #1 and way more important than anyone who may be calling you.

9.  Show up. Be there for their special days, no matter how little or big the event or the child is.

8.  Game Time. Playing games is a great way to just hang out, be competitive, insert values when they don’t realize it, and just have fun! There are so many fun family games. Just last night, I observed my 9 year old daughter playing “Go Fish” with my husband. It was the tiniest deck of cards you ever did see, but they were laughing and having the best time.

7.  One on one time. Be intentional on having some time just for you and one of your children. For me, this is tough sometimes. I have to make this happen. For example, my daughter and I have a lot of time alone and we do a regular Mommy~Daughter date night, but my sons and I don’t.  (We used to, but since they have gotten older, not so much.) I have to create that time so I try to select an activity that will intrigue them…like going to Starbucks, to a sports store just to look around, to a movie then ice cream, or sitting in the garage to listen to the drums.  The activity isn’t so important as the time is.

6.  Family Devotions. Priceless. If you can get your whole family together for some Family Time Devotions and discussion, do it!!!!  It’s a great time to have the opportunity to bring God’s Word to life and learn to apply to real life. My kids learned how to look up Bible verses because of family devotions.

5.  Car Time/Bedtime. You have a captive audience in the car, don’t let that time slip by.  Talk to them. Pay attention to what they want to listen to on the radio and let them listen to it.  Ask them about their day. And at bedtime, tuck them in.  Again, you have a captive audience. Sometimes this is when your kids will just unload. For some reason mine seem to let their guards down at bedtime. Pray for them and let them hear you.

4.  Family Meals. Whether you are a single mom or the mom of six, try to make time for a meal together. Not only does it encourage conversation, but also table manners.  We used to all have breakfast together. Something we like to incorporate into our Dinner time is reporting the  High-Lows:  Each person reveals their high of the day and their low of the day. Quite telling.

3.  Get interested in what they love even if it’s not what you love. Find out the best way for THEM to communicate. This may not be your #1 way. Follow them on Facebook.  Look at their iTunes music files. Play their video games. Get to know their friends and love them. Text them.

2.  Talk to them about anything! And listen too! From early on, let them know that they can ask anything, talk to you about anything, or approach you with any subject.  NOTHING is off limits. Oh I have stories on this one!

1. Be available. Show your children that they matter by being available to them.

And finally, one I can’t leave off.

*Pray for them. Pray a specific verse for them. Let them know you are doing this. It may be a life verse you have claimed for them or just a prayer you have on your heart that day. This is a way you can connect with them EVEN IF THEY DON’T RESPOND TO THE OTHER 10 SUGGESTIONS.

So, now that you’ve read mine, what do you think?  What would you add to it that has been good for you?  Share with me today in the comment section and you’ll be entered to win Jeannie Cunnion’s book, Parenting the Wholehearted Child! Winner will be randomly selected and notified via email. Can’t wait to hear from you!

Melissa

Comments

  1. Kristy Aiken says:

    What a refreshing read this morning. We just sat down last night to make a plan for the school year to ke sure we stay connected and make time to teach them about our Father. I always look forward to anything you write. Love you.

  2. Jeanine. Montgomery says:

    Validate their feelings even if what they say or feel doesn’t make sense to you.
    Accept how they feel for instance I am hungry, I am tired, I am sad don’t say, “No you aren’t.” That’s impossible.

  3. Thank you Melissa for the reminder. I just had a long conversation last night with my oldest daughter who was a little upset that I had planned a weekend away with just my youngest. We (the older and I) have done several things like that, but I have not, up until now managed to do a bigger event with the younger. I am very excited and much relieved after the discussion that the wounded feelings are understood and will heal. Thank you for all you do! ~Linda~

  4. Yvette Parsons says:

    Those are great tips. I would also suggest praying with them. Letting them pour their requests to God can be a window into their souls….precious time! Be blessed!

  5. Spot on! You are correct that the list doesn’t change. I work with preschoolers and their parents and this is a for sure share. Thank you!

  6. Melissa, after 21 years of raising kids, I can attest to the extreme value each of these play in parenting! And although they don’t guarantee perfect children, they guarantee that your children know they are PERFECTLY LOVED!! Thank you for sharing these. In fact, your words inspire me to reevaluate and make sure I am doing these for my sweet son, Bo, who is 16!!

    I do play Call of Duty with him…and my friends are often shocked when they learn of it!! But it’s great fun, although I do get a bit too competitive. :)

    Wendy

    • Wendy~ I love you! I would LOVE to be there when you are playing Call of Duty with Bo! My kids like for me to play video games with them…but only to laugh at me!
      This means a lot to me coming from you. You are such a good mama!

  7. Barbara Campbell says:

    Absolutely true! Mine are 22 (married) and 26 (lives in another town) … we are still close and while they are independent and living their own lives, they still call to talk with Mom. :-) They are not perfect nor is our relationship perfect, but it is so good and they are so great! They never doubted they were loved.. unconditionally… and Mom was and is always a safe place to share whatever they needed to share. My son is an avid musician and would talk on and on about gear and such and I was clueless (still am), but I smiled and listened and relished in his passion. In fact, he and I have a breakfast date tomorrow and I feel certain I’ll be doing that again then! Bedtime was huge for us.. like you said, my kids seemed to unload then. We started talking at bedtime when they were preschoolers to build that habit and it continued into their teens. And Family Devotions.. wow! Such a blessing! Especially when they start sharing what God is showing them in their Bible reading. I get tears of joy thinking about it! And now to see them walking out what God is calling them to with confidence.. just a huge blessing for this mom who is a total mess and unworthy of all the Grace He gives!

    • Barbara~
      Thank you so much for sharing this with me (us)! I love that you are having breakfast with one of your kids tomorrow and I really love reading about you looking back on the times when they were with you in the home. Love!

  8. Melissa, this list is timeless! As I read through each of your suggestions, I realized these are all things my mom did when I was growing up … and she instilled them so deeply within my heart that I’ve lived them out with my own children.

    The only one that’s different in #1. Instead of a cell phone, my mom had one of those wall-mounts with the stretched out cord which reached from one end our kitchen to the living room! :-)

  9. Lynn Baum says:

    Wonderful thoughts! I also feel the need to jump right in and be in the mix of whatever they are doing sometimes as though I were one of them. Whether it’s hiking, swimming at the lake or just playing legos on the floor. I’m in on their level in as many ways as I can be. I miss those times with my kids now for they are all grown, but you gotta know it….I have grandchildren! And the legacy continues. Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. Quantity Time = Quality Time. Give every minute you can spare. The quality will pop up when the quantity is there.

  11. Great tips, Melissa! Learning to like what they love has been fun for me! Thanks to my son I can throw a lacrosse ball and I can play tennis now, thanks to my daughter! Time, time, time – enjoy the time with them now because we will never get it back! I’m sharing your list with friends!

  12. Michelle S. says:

    Thank you, Melissa for the great post. I do most of your suggestions; however, sometimes I forget to pause my life and practice these suggestions. I need to include the prayers more. I don’t always pray for my girls and it’s so important and they love it when I do. Posts like this one are great reminders to slow down a little bit and be with our children.

  13. Thanks Melissa I heard you discuss this list on the call yesterday and it reminded me to put my cell phone down. My daughter turns six this month I am going to look for a devotional book that we can all read for her birthday. Thank You