Funny I didn’t even think about “the latter years” when I was a young Mum.
I was quite struck by a recent survey entitled Modern Parent: Average Parent. The concept of a close knit family is quickly becoming an antiquated notion. Of 1 000 parents interviewed, more than half the parents with children under the age of 18 said they felt “distant” from their children.
43% said their children spent too much time in front of the television,
51% said their children spent too much time in their bedrooms
44% said their children spent too much time on their cell phone.
54% said they would like more time with their children.
46% of parents said they only spend fours hours face to face with their children … each… week!
In the study conducted by Cadbury’s Hero’s, it emerged that at around 13 years of age, the average youngster starts to avoid his parents. Whaaat!! A whopping 73% of parents acknowledged their relationship with their children started to shift once children became teenagers.
Everything in me wanted to jump up and shout “No!!! Don’t let your children just drift away from you. Create time to bond with them – intentionally! Contend for close relationships with your children. Pray for them. Figure out what their love language is. Use it as a bridge across which to genuinely draw close so as to listen to understand what they’re going through and hear how they’re really doing. LISTEN without blaming or interrupting!
I was taken aback when a friend commented recently “I wish I had the type of relationship you and Kev enjoy with your sons and daughters in law. What you have going is something very special” Lest you think we walk around with shining halo’s we so don’t, believe me, but we honestly do ENJOY a life giving, close knit relationship with our adult sons and daughters in law as do many of you also!
I found myself turning back the pages of our story as a regular young couple in ministry. I’d had a challenging childhood and longed to create a stable, close knit family experience for our children. Yet life as church planter was super B.U.S.Y!! So how did we do it.
As parents we shared the same vision and values when it came to raising children. They grew up with very clear boundaries, loads of smiley hugs and encouragement I guess. Sometimes this simply took the form of snuggling up on the settee and chatting or connecting in the kitchen over a mug of tea and sarmies after school or but definitely sitting chatting at their bedside when they were young, reading the bible and praying for things that mattered to them at night.
Little could I ever have foreseen back then that those thin layers of authentic, vulnerable connection would yield intensely precious moments for us as parents in our latter years. we’re here, I am blown away by the way our married children all stay in touch with us. I am astounded at the honour they shower us with, how they laugh with us and love us, repairing if there’s a misunderstanding, praying with us and giving us constructive solid advice that evokes such respect within us. This blessing of God humbles me deeply and their kindness often overwhelms me, healing something in my own personal story. Ps 34:1-2. Psalm 127:3
I can almost hear someone say “Well that’s all fine and good for you, but quite honestly, right now I’m feeling pretty discouraged and disconnected from my kids. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve left it too late to make up for lost time. I live with regret and guilt” Rom 12:9-12
Well, do I have good news for you dear friend!
Everything about Jesus Christ has to do with restoration. Put your hope in Christ that reconciliation is possible. In God’s economy, it’s never too late to repair fractured relationships. Even if there is no response initially, let the integrity of your motives fuel your continued efforts to care. Keep at it. Be authentic. Love NEVER GIVES UP! Ps 42:5
If your children are still at home, seize the day!! You’ll never regret making the time to bond and connect with them at a heart level. Switch off the TV and enjoy dinner together at the table with no cell phones! Be interested in their teachers, which subjects they enjoy and which ones they struggle with. Speak Life over them. Correct constructively. Do everything you can to help them. Celebrate their unique strengths. Keep it real. All get involved in your local church. Build in a margin of space to apologise, forgive and repair when misunderstandings and conflict occur. Prov 15: 1;2;4;18
Don’t believe the lie that the adolescent years have to be emotionally stressful. Some of the richest years of closeness we enjoyed with our children took place during their adolescence. But it’s going to require intentionality to reach out and connect with your teenager!!
Be on the look out for opportunities to connect and talk with each of your children. My husband excelled at getting to their sports matches. They LOVED chatting about sport!! I loved delving into their emotional well being. As parents we both wanted to understand their struggles and get behind their dreams as best we could. We always believed in their potential to add value and make a positive difference within their spheres of influence and we infused that in their thinking!
If you have a vision to build a close knit family – contend for it with tenacious, joy filled intentionality. It’ll be a delightful daily decision you’ll never regret. A legacy your children will duplicate and God will be honoured, for where there is unity, God commands His blessing Psalm 133.
Women Of Reverence welcomes guest blogger Debi Jones.
Debi Jones who is a pastoral counselor at North Hills Church in PMB and a Relationship Coach. Her endless passion is journeying with and coaching people on how to set their relationships up for success.
Debi brings with her life insight from forty years of marriage and thirty-five years in ministry!