By Contributing Writer, Terry Covey
“Friends with my children?! But I’m their teacher, guide, and caretaker. They’ll lose respect.”
I know. This topic can be confusing. One that can’t be encompassed in a quick post or a tip of the day. But, as our children learn and grow to adulthood and our responsibilities lessen, it is important that we become friends with our children. So what’s the key?
What’s the one foundational skill that will help all other areas of raising our sons and daughters? It profoundly affects our ability to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That would be – communication. Enter their world. Be there for them. Listen to them. Offer counsel, ideas, perspective. Give them your trust.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
It’s so easy to get busy in our own world of keeping house, planning meals, stocking the freezer, managing laundry, attending to the needs of our marriage. But we often forget how important one-on-one time spent with our children is to them. Oh, I know, you may be saying that you pour into them each and every day. I do too. And that’s the easy part when they’re small. We talk and giggle and tickle and hug. We listen to, “Watch Mommy!” hundreds of times a day, and we clap as they reveal their latest feat. They woo us into their world.
But what about as they get older? Their latest feat isn’t so interesting, and they’re a bit timid about sharing it with you. They wonder if you’ll think they’re silly – or immature – or proud. What then? Will you be there to ask them to show you what they’re learning? Ask them what is new in their world? Find out what interests them? Hear about their latest endeavor? Ask what they thought of a recent book or movie?
Oh, please don’t think I have this all together! I fail daily. But one thing that helps me is an overactive conscience. God blessed me with it, and it can be a mixed blessing. But, it does keep me tuned into my children’s hearts. I’m sure I mess up by entering in when maybe I shouldn’t, or getting busy with my own stuff while forgetting about theirs. But having our children’s hearts on our radar screen keeps us aware of their attitudes, moods, needs.
For as many times as I’ve messed up, I think the fact that I care has held together my relationship with them over the years. This backbone for good relationships with our children – communication – sets us up for a lifetime of friendship and guidance. And that guidance goes both directions! You will be surprised how many times your children will have something profound to teach you! If you have ears to hear and a heart that seeks.
Don’t give up. Don’t think that it’s all about changing diapers and teaching them to obey and do their schoolwork. You must be available long after they sleep through the night and can wash their own dishes! Watch and listen. Ask and ask again.
And you will gain a friend.