Connection. If you’re like most of us, you think about connection in the context of our digital age—connected via social media, gaming, video platforms, and even the electrical grid. Always on, always going. Disconnecting is what everyone is screaming about, as they post waterfall photos to show the rest of the world just how unplugged they are. But what if connection is something we need? I don’t mean with thousands of strangers via social media. I mean with our kids.
We all want to connect with our kids, but it’s hard. Our schedules are busy, we’re tired, and let’s face it, sometimes our kids who are preteen and older can have crummy attitudes. Honestly, sometimes we just don’t “get” our kid or their interests. So our connection gets set aside. We delay it, thinking we’ll make it happen another time. One of the most challenging elements of parenting is all of the stuff we want to say, or wish we would do, or plan to do “someday.” Then we don’t say it, or do it, and eventually someday is too far gone, and our kids have become adults. It’s not going to be easy, but you must decide that today is the day to say the stuff, do the things, and bury the nebulous “someday”—because that day is today!
But how do we do that? Let’s look to Jesus. He seemed to have an instant connection with people. After all, why else would people drop everything they were doing and just follow him around the countryside? Instead of waving his hand and making people follow him like some sort of Jedi mind-trick, Jesus spent time showing compassion toward people when they struggled. He was authentic, never pretending to be something he wasn’t. Jesus was relevant, applying truth with context, and engaged by giving his full attention to whatever he was doing at the time.
If you think that sounds like a challenge, it is. But Jesus led by example, and we can follow him in connecting with our kids. By emulating Jesus’ approach, we provide opportunities for connection with our kids to grow with opportunities we already have. Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus emulating these concepts in everyday life. In John 8:7, he showed compassion to the adulterous woman by challenging her accusers. But he didn’t stop everything and give a lecture. In John 2:15, Jesus flipped the temple tables with righteous anger, showing authenticity. He also cried over the death of his friend, Lazarus, in John 11:35. That kind of response to real-life situations shows that Jesus was ready and willing to be relevant and authentic with his emotions and to put his words into action in their proper context. And he exhibited active engagement when he was spending time with people, being present in the moment.
Don’t Exchange Moments with Connection
Jesus didn’t have to plan a weekend getaway or expensive dinner to connect with his disciples. Those things are nice, but they’re not essential. He used moments he already had, and we can, too. We already spend time with our kids daily. Car rides, practices, rehearsals, doing chores together, cooking breakfast on Saturday, or even playing a board game. Everyday activities are rich with opportunities to connect with our kids. We don’t have to strive to create a special moment.
One of the greatest mistakes we make as parents is that we confuse connecting with a moment to connecting with our child. Moments are incredible, and they can be the tracks upon which connection runs, but connection is so much more than a space in time. We should strive to create moments but be wary that we aren’t exchanging moments with connection. Connection can happen in the in-between spaces if we are intentional with the opportunities we have.
For help developing a custom-fit method of discipling kids in your season of parenting, read Write It On Their Hearts by Chris and Melissa Swain. This article is based on ideas from the book, which offers practical help and advice for Christian parents on how to be intentional with their time to lead their children to Jesus.