By Rhonda Jones
Feelings of loneliness and isolation hit all Christians at some point or another, but when we feel separated from our own children, many of us don’t know how to react. We expect to feel this with friends or more distant relatives, but when the distance is within our own household, what are we supposed to do?
Fortunately, there are several things that Christian parents can do to build strong, healthy relationships with their kids– and to help their kids build strong, healthy relationships with the Lord! Even if you and your children are busy between school, work, sports, and avid social lives, you can incorporate these small activities into your daily lives to foster feelings of faith-driven closeness between you and your kids.
1. Pick a Scripture for the Day.
This is a simple way to interact with your kids through faith, and to help all of you incorporate God’s Word into your daily lives! Every day, pick a Scripture and discuss it with your kids. Ask them about what you think it means, and share what it means to you, then discuss ways that you can use it during the day. Make it your collective goal to incorporate the passage you selected into your life. The following day, follow up! See how each of you exercised it. This is a great topic to discuss over dinner or before school.
2. Be Thankful.
This is a simple way to begin or end the day with your children, but it can make a huge leap in growing closer to the Lord and to each other. Much of the time, when we talk about work or school, we find ourselves complaining about spilling our drink at lunch or getting a headache because of a bad test result (or a bad meeting). Instead, practice thankfulness. Many common prayers are focused on gratitude. Have your kids make a list of two or three good things God brought into their lives that day, and share a list of your own. You will be able to share what makes you feel thankful, and you will teach your children how to thank God for all that He does– even on the bad days.
3. Have a FUN Weekly Bible Lesson.
This one is probably best saved for the weekend, when you have time to make the lesson as entertaining as it can be. Pick your topic, gather some information, and incorporate as much art and movement into the lesson as you can! This can include makeshift costumes using things in your closet, or simply asking your kids to turn the lesson into a comic book with illustrations. If you’re having fun, your kids will, too.
4. Listen to Your Children.
As Christian parents, we believe that it is our job to teach our children to be good people with strong values and a love for Christ. With so many things to teach them, it can be easy to forget that they are active participants in the process, too! Learning is just as active as teaching, and if you want to foster a strong relationship of trust and understanding between you and your kids, it’s important to listen. Instilling strong, faith-based values is a lot easier when you can work with what they think and feel. They’re kids, but they’re people, too!
5. Get Out of the House– for Fun!
Busy families tend to have two modes of functioning: either we’re out and about all day getting things done, or we spend all day holed up in our bedrooms in our pajamas. While rest and alone time is important, if your goal is to grow closer to your children, you need to schedule regular outings where the goal is just to have fun. Go see a movie or show, go out to lunch, or go for a hike with your kids. Relationships grow during leisure time.
6. Eat Together.
This may take some planning, and it may be hit-and-miss at first, but it’s a foolproof way to grow closer as a family. Eating is one of the most fundamental parts of being alive! Share the experience. Be together for at least one meal every day, even if it’s a quick dinner of pizza and salad. Try taking turns saying grace every day before the meal.
7. Ban Phones from Dinner.
The Internet has many wonderful resources for Christmas, but the Bible wasn’t written on Twitter! Fostering deeper relationship with the Lord, and with each other, requires connecting on a deeper, distraction-free level. You’ll feel more connected to each other instantly.
8. Just Be with Your Kids.
Just be together with no goal. One of the best small, simple things to do with your kids is to sit together talking and laughing in the driveway for a few minutes before going inside your house after an outing. This gives you time to reflect together on what you saw or did while you were out of the house, and draws the focus back in on you as a family, instead of keeping your brains a million miles away with all the business! Even small amounts of time spent just being with each other can set the tone for the rest of the day, bringing you closer together.
As you can see, with just a few activities, Christian parents can build healthy relationships with their children!