I sat down to write this post. Not far into it, I got a text from my son who goes to college a few hours away from here. Yes, I needed to get some writing and work done this morning, but we ended up texting for quite a while.
It was about spiritual things, and I realized how incredibly blessed we are that our kids still share with us and care about our opinions. He recently told me thank you for always supporting him. Yes, it makes my mama’s heart so happy.
I’ll be really honest here though: there are no guarantees in parenting.
We were far from perfect parents, and I could give you a list of regrets I personally have if I chose to dwell on those things. But instead, I’d rather focus on what you can do to move forward in a positive direction.
7 Habits You Can Start Today to Build a Lifelong Connection With Your Child
So here are the things I hope will help you build lifelong a connection with your children.
They are habits that no matter what happens, you won’t look back and say, “I really wish I hadn’t done that.”
And perhaps, through God’s grace, you’ll be spending the morning texting back and forth with your young adult child because you have built a solid relationship.
1. Model your faith.
It’s so easy to focus on things like Bible curriculums for our kids or programs that will help them understand how to grow in faith. There’s nothing wrong with looking for the best resources we can find. But I want to share with you the best curriculum, the best resource: you!
Our kids learn a lot more from what we do than what we say.
In matters of faith, if they don’t see that we have a heart for God and a commitment to growing that relationship, why would they? And how much better will it be when we teach from what we personally know?
That’s why we have to start with our hearts! So that we can teach from an overflow of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
But it’s more than just praying and being in the Word. They also need to see how we handle life.
2. Walk alongside one another in real-life situations.
I’ve often seen homeschooling moms worry when they got behind in school with their kids because they were taking care of a family member or had some sort of difficult circumstance come up.
We have to stop seeing life and education as two separate things!
When you walk through difficult times, invite your kids into the process.
Let them see you relying on God, working through doubts or fears. Talk about what it looks like to walk in faith even when things are hard and let them see you actively trusting God.
3. Read aloud together.
We loved reading aloud together!
There are some wonderful academic benefits to the practice, but the best benefits are about relationships. Reading aloud gives us a chance to talk about big ideas, tough situations, and character issues.
It also gives us a shared experience. We so often made references to books we read together as a family.
After reading The Giver, I can’t tell you how many times one of the boys said “precision of language, please” during conversations.
The first year my youngest was in college he sent a family text of a picture from his textbook mentioning Nathanial Bowditch who we had read about during their elementary years.
4. Have great conversations that build a lifelong connection!
I know that sounds obvious, but how often do we really sit down and just talk? On road trips, do your kids have time that is electronic free so you can all engage in conversation? Do we take those moments when driving around town together to talk?
And do we make sure that we have some meal times where we can look one another in the eye, free from distractions, and share what is going on in our worlds?
How we talk to our kids will make the difference about whether they want to sit and talk to us.
Our kids need to hear gracious and respectful words from us, and they need to hear those words in a gracious and respectful tone. We can be firm when we discipline, but that doesn’t mean we have to be harsh.
And most importantly we have to remember that conversations go two ways. We need to listen, sometimes biting our tongues, instead of just talking at our kids.
5. Make family time a priority.
As our kids kid older, this gets harder to do as schedules become more and more busy. That’s why you have to prioritize time that you will spend together.
Choose one night a week (or whatever works for your family as long as it’s regular and everyone can be together) to have a family fun night.
Play games, watch movies, go play miniature golf, or simply sit around and talk over ice cream. Making family time a priority will help you build those lifelong connections with your children!
6. Be a team. Work together to build a lifelong connection with your kid!
Teams work together, they cheer one another on, and they have a common goal. It’s amazing the difference cultivating a team mentality among your family members can make in the strength of your relationships.
So make it a habit to act as a team by:
- Encouraging each one another instead of putting one another down
- Letting each of your children know you believe in them and their abilities to do hard things
- Having regular “team meetings” to talk about what’s working and what’s not (and what you can do about it!)
- Working toward common goals whether in the home or through community service
7. Have fun and laugh a lot.
I end with this, but honestly, it should be really close to the top in priority.
Having fun and laughing together, creates an incredible bond between family members.
We’ve found that board games provide a great way to relax and often we end up laughing hysterically at some point.
We also love watching clean comedians together such as Tim Hawkins. (Several years ago we went to see him as a family for my birthday, and it will always be a great memory for us.) You can watch him on YouTube or get a DVD, pop some popcorn, and spend an evening laughing together.
When we get into the habit of doing these things, we build a connection with our kids. And that’s the kind of lifelong connection they will need as they grow up and become adults.
They live in a weirdly disconnected world considering all of the technology they possess, supposedly designed for connection.
Instead, they need true connection more than ever, and they need it with you.
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Kay Chance homeschooled her two sons for 15 years. Now that they are in college, she blogs at Heart-to-Heart Homeschooling where she helps moms cultivate the calm, deeply connected lives they crave through faith, family, and education.
She is also the author of the Older Extensions for the Trail Guide to Learning series and Content Editor for Homeschooling Today magazine