You live with them, but do you really know your children well?
Unfortunately, many parents don’t really know their children! They are so busy coming and going in different directions and to different activities, that often little communication exists.
Or perhaps, they are there with their kids quite a bit physically, but their minds are on so many other things that they might as well not be there. They are unaware of their children and their feelings.
As a result, problems surface in their children’s lives that come as a total shock to the parents. The symptoms were there, but they didn’t notice them in the early stages, when the problem could have been easily dealt with.
I know these things from personal experience.
When my daughter was young, I remember watching with concern as she fought an attitude problem, and I wondered what was wrong. Finally, something happened that brought it to a head, and we had to talk about it.
She then confessed that she hadn’t been reading her Bible.
From that experience, I learned to ask her about what she read, or learned in her Bible reading. That encouraged her to stay faithful.
Another time she seemed upset, and finally said, “Mom, do you remember when you used to ask me if I remembered to pray? Well I wish you’d start asking again, because I’ve been forgetting, and I’m having problems.“
From that I learned that if one of the kids was showing a subtle, gradual change in attitude, I should ask about their walk with the Lord, and their daily time with Him!
These are just example of a couple times that I didn’t really know what was going on with my kids. There have been other times where I was unaware of an area they were struggling with, because I was distracted.
How do you really get to know your children? It’s not that hard, but it won’t just happen either! You have to make a point of developing that relationship, and staying close.
Here are some ideas to help you really get to know your children well:
1. Talk to your kids.
I don’t mean the usual, “Go do this!” or “Where are you going?” type of talk, either. I mean just talking and sharing as you would with a friend.
Listen as they share their thoughts and dreams with you. It will reveal a lot to you about them as they open their heart and share with you.
Ask questions and engage in conversation with them on topics that interest them.
>>> 8 Ways To Build Better Communication With Your Children
Also, let them know when you’re excited, tired, discouraged, or what God is teaching you. When you’re going through a difficulty, ask them to pray for you.
Admitting that you have needs as a parent doesn’t lessen your children’s respect for you. If anything, it helps them know better what is happening in your life, and keeps them closer to you.
2. Listen to your kids.
This is usually easier said than done.
The normal tendency is to listen to part of what they’re saying, and then interrupt to give them our advice, criticism, and so on. Or we only half listen, as our minds wander.
It’s surprising what you’ll learn as you really listen.
If you are alert, you’ll catch things that you need to deal with. Perhaps some comments will indicate a problem with relationships, or perhaps they will give a clue of wrong attitudes.
On the other hand, there are things you will catch that need to be praised and encouraged. Sometimes your children will hint of discouragement or fear, and need some reassuring.
By the way, if we don’t catch these needs as parents, they’ll go elsewhere to get their needs met!
3. Observe your kids.
If you’re attentive and watch your kids, you should be able to tell when they’re troubled. Often they need you to just give them some time, and let them know you’re aware and want to help.
How sad that some kids go home and cry in a corner, and Mom or Dad are too busy to notice, and offer comfort.
Watch their countenances for changes. Sometimes they may indicate a sad spirit; other times an attitude problem that needs to be dealt with. Find out what caused it, and help them get it right.
Observing how they relate to other family members is a real clue to their true character. Watch for things that need to be talked about, and help them grow in their weak areas.
Don’t just yell at them, or ignore problems between siblings, believing that all kids treat each other that way. Our children need to treat each other with love and kindness. When they get snappy and sharp, try to find out what’s causing their reactions.
4. Ask your kids questions.
As you observe changes in their spirit or countenance, of course you’ll ask questions, and try to discern the problem or need. But don’t just wait till you observe something!
Whenever your kids go somewhere, ask them questions when they come home. Ask who they were with, what they did, ate, talked about, etc. (Ask out of interest, not distrust, or they’ll resent it!) When you’ve been gone, ask them questions when you get home about what they did.
In other words, show an interest in them and their activities and friends.
For one reason, you should be interested in the details of their lives. (Don’t you like to tell your husband all about your day when he comes home?) It’s important to them.
For another reason, it will tell you a lot about them, and what’s going on in their hearts and minds.
If you do all these things, you’ll benefit in two ways:
- You’ll be aware of small problems BEFORE they become big.
- You’ll get to know your children in a rewarding way, and a wonderful bond will be formed between you as you grow together.
What can you do today to help you really know your children well?
BE SURE TO GRAB OUT LIST OF 25 THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIP & WIN THEIR HEARTS
I LOVE THIS! SO ENCOURAGING! THANKS FOR SHARING!
Oh how encouraging! I love how you took the time to listen to her heart, and then God opened doors for you to help her through it all!
So encouraging, Kathy! Thank you for these wonderful ideas and for sharing your heart! My daughter was having a really hard time at church. I was not understanding at 5 years old and having been with the same teachers for 3 years how she could get upset every week when we dropped her off for Sunday School. I hadn’t been in tune or asking questions. Honestly, I was selfish and just wanted her to go happily and not have to deal with anything(a heart issue for me! The Lord is so patient!). I started just sitting in her room after we prayed before bed. I asked her why she was upset when we dropped her off at Sunday School. She told me she was sad that her big brother had moved to the older kids’ class and missed him and didn’t have any friends(the other 2 girls moved up and the new girls were younger from another class). My daughter is introverted and takes a lot of warming up to play with others. So I let her talk, and we prayed together and asked God to give her good friends in her Sunday School class. Then we role played a few times on other days so she could learn how to ask a friend to play. I was able to share Scripture with her about being friendly and making friends. And I also talked to her teacher and asked if she could help. The Lord is so so good and provided an opportunity for my husband and me to serve during the worship/service time; I was able to help her play with another girl. I could tell that boosted her confidence and made my mama heart so happy to see her happy. Her teacher kept helping, too. And now she has two good girl friends. The other day she said, “Mom, I even have boy friends in that class.” Haha! It was so neat for both of us to see the Lord answer our prayers and the gift of her new friendships. She looks forward to church and has such a joyful heart going. I have also been reading How to Listen so Kids will Talk, and How to Talk so Kids Will Listen. It is a book that needs filtered through a Biblical worldview but has amazing principles that can be so helpful! I am not a good listener, so this has been such a blessing!!! Your blog encourages and blesses me so much!!! Thank you for sharing and always cheering other moms on to love Jesus and point our kids to Him!!!
Thanks Leslie. I like Gary Chapman’s book too! It’s easy to show our kids love in OUR love language, rather than theirs, so it’s important to get to know what speaks love to them.
Thanks Tara! You’re right, often the simplest things that don’t seem like much, can make a huge difference.
These are great ideas, sometimes it is the simplest of things that can make a big difference. Like taking the time out of your day to really connect with your kids as you have mentioned.
What wonderful suggestions! Listening and observing also give us clues into how we can love our kids in ways that will particularly resonate with them. I love The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman.