We all want to connect with our kids, but sometimes it’s difficult. They’re always on their electronics or we are too busy to pay attention. In this post, we’ll look at ways we can help focus our efforts, so we connect with our kids. As we explore this subject, I want to give you two words: Intentionality and consistency.
Intentionality is important because no great idea gets applied on its own. Great things don’t happen on accident. While you may really desire a deeper relationship with your child, if you aren’t intentional about your behavior and communication—it won’t happen. Great relationships are intentionally nurtured; they don’t just magically appear.
Consistency is vital. If you try any of these suggestions one time but never revisit them — the positive effects will be minimal. We must be consistent to see long-term growth and change. So, don’t fall into the trap of trying one of these suggestions, snag a quick win and think you’re finished. If you get that elusive quick win — and I hope you do — remember there are bigger wins down the road. Biblical fatherhood understands this is a marathon not a sprint.
What do I mean by “become less self-centered”? Now, this isn’t meant to be a slam against you as a dad. But, sometimes we try hard to pull our kids into our hobbies and it doesn’t work out as we thought.
I love to hunt. From archery all the way through rifle season, I’m in the woods as often as I can be (without causing a riot at home). My son Gabe is now 8 years old. He enjoys going hunting with me, but that wasn’t the case the first few times I took him out.
I remember the first time I took him hunting, he was only 5 years old. I’d envisioned us going out, him being attentive and spotting his trophy buck. Then, after I shot the deer, we’d go together and drag it back to the truck. In my vision, there was a glow and the dead deer was smiling.
The reality was far from my dream. We got in the deer blind, and he moved more in the first hour than I had ever heard him move in his entire life. He coughed, sneezed, burped and talked at full volume constantly.
He mostly asked, “When are the deer coming out?” and “When are we going home?” He fell asleep (that was cute) and yes, I took a lot of pictures of him asleep in the deer blind. But, this wasn’t the way I wanted to bond with my son. I was dejected and frustrated. We went home without a deer.
The way I coerced Gabe into being excited about hunting was through snacks and an iPad. I knew what snacks he liked. I took them out of the original wrappers and put them in something quieter. I charged up my iPad and put stuff on it he liked. Whenever I saw an animal or something cool, I’d tap him, and he’d look up and we’d whisper (praise the Lord he learned to whisper!) about what it was. We’ve seen snakes, hogs, deer, hawks, bobcats and all kinds of cool stuff — that was creating in him a love for the outdoors.
Now, the above example is only me taking my son to do what I like to do and then finding a way to entertain him while I do it.
If we want to connect with our kids, we must find out what they love. It’s great to find those places where your kids understand you; but, as a godly father, you need to also be working to find experiences that help you know your kids.
I knew my son liked to play sports. He’s often watched his older sister play, so I asked if he wanted to play Upward soccer. He did, and I volunteered to coach. I knew nothing about soccer. But, neither did this pack of kids!
They basically chased the ball around the field and kicked each other more than the ball. But, we had fun, and most importantly, I connected with my son.
Gabe thanked me for being his coach and I could see the pride in my son’s eyes as he would stand next to me in every team huddle. Soccer turned out not to be his thing, so we’ve moved on to Karate.
You don’t have to coach, you just have to be present.
I think we often get in a wrong mindset. We think that to make the time with our kids valuable we must teach them something. We are constantly teaching by example. It doesn’t always have to be a direct lesson.
When I spend time with my son playing sports or even watching a superhero movie, I’m teaching him to do the same with his kids. I have watched Barbie movies with my youngest daughter. All of my kids know I don’t like Barbie, but I’m crazy about my children. I have played Barbies, received makeovers from my daughters and had my hair and beard “fixed”.
There is something special that happens when they invite you into their world. Take advantage of the opportunities to use your imagination with them. Attend make-believe tea parties and play goalie as your kids kick shot after shot at your face.
Connecting with your child like never before means becoming less self-centered.
When I say, “become less self-centered”, what I’m really encouraging you to do is dive into their world instead of trying to draw them into yours. There are things your kids will want to do because they know you like it. But, you can also serve your kids by nurturing the things they enjoy.
Want to really connect with your child like never before? Remember why you are doing it, especially if it’s a hobby, movie or music—that you don’t really like. You’re doing it, watching it or listening to it not because you like it, but because they do.
Question: What’s one thing you already know your child really enjoys? Think on it. Then, spend a few minutes this evening enjoying that thing with your child. Tell us how it goes in the comments section below, tweet us @manhoodjourney or you can always email.
Will is a doctoral student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary studying leadership. He is the associate pastor of students and men’s ministry at Memorial Baptist Church in Baytown, TX. Married to Lucinda for 13 years, they have four wonderful kids. Learn more about Will here. Grab his Field Guide Common Ground.
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