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Do You Desire a Deeper Connection with Your Child?
Do your conversations with your son or daughter ever seem like a litany of corrections and instructions? Perhaps they sound like this: “Did you brush your teeth?” “Did you feed the dog?” “Please don’t provoke your sister!” “Your basketball uniform is on the dryer.” “How could you forget your homework?”
With school, sports, recitals, holidays, and church programs—in our case, for five children—life can easily spin out of control. Survival became our goal. Communication became utilitarian, and relationships were sometimes strained.
So many nights I fell into bed and couldn’t remember a single meaningful word I said to my kids all day. I felt so guilty. I was missing opportunities to praise and encourage them because I was too busy reminding and instructing. In my desire to make sure we got everything done right, I was squelching the sweetness and joy God intended for our relationship.
I knew something was missing in the way we were raising our kids but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The busyness of life was blowing away opportunities for my husband and me to encourage our children. It was time for a change.
God made that clear one morning through an incident with our oldest child, Megan. I had been coaching Megan to have more patience with her younger siblings, who adored her but were often annoying to her. On the way to school on a morning of particularly annoying adoration, I observed Megan responding to one of the kids with intentional patience. She then gave me the Do you see me, Mom? look in the rearview mirror.
We arrived at school, the kids got out of the car, and I drove away, marveling that Megan had put into practice what we had discussed. I so badly wanted to encourage her to continue being patient with her siblings. Then my joy turned pensive. I began to worry that I would forget to praise her after school. I knew I would be distracted getting all the kids where they needed to be. But I was not going to miss this opportunity to encourage her. I drove home and immediately wrote her a long note of praise and left it on her pillow.
Megan found the note on her pillow and did something I will never forget. She wrote me back and put her note on my pillow. That night when I dropped into bed, instead of falling asleep craving more connection with my kids, I felt overwhelming gratefulness that God had inspired me to do something so simple.
The next day I started a journal with each of my kids. I wrote down a question—usually about something going on in their life. Then I wrote my thoughts and words of encouragement. I placed it on the child’s pillow and waited for him or her to write back. This gave each of them a comfortable way to express themselves to us and gave us a clear window into their minds and emotions.
And when the journal was filled, we had a keepsake of wonderful memories and their developing thoughts.