Friday, July 1, 2011

Connecting with Our Kids

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange… open wide your hearts also. – 2 Corinthians 6:11-13

Are you connected with your kids? Connection happens when I know you’re there, you know I’m here, and we’re both aware of it. I’m aware that you know I’m here. And I know that you know I’m aware of it. And you know that I know you’re aware I’m here. That’s connection. (Disclaimer: I wrote that before my first cup of tea!)

Now, assuming you were able to follow my winding, amateur definition, connection may seem pretty basic, especially to an extrovert. But as simple as it sounds, some of us are actually pretty lousy at it. I certainly am. I wasn’t very connected with as a child, and I’m an introvert. It’s just easier for me to default into an isolated state.

Connection can be further undermined by major worries, which distract us from our kids. It takes trust to turn away from the demanding concerns of adulthood, and enter our children’s ingenuous world. I believe God wants to carry our burdens so we are emotionally free to connect with our children.

With kids, disconnection is disastrous. They need to connect with their parents, the first people with whom they form relationships. It’s firstly the mom’s onus to provide this sense of connection. However, as I remind myself often, we don’t need to be discouraged if we’ve fallen short. Connection is just a prayer and a habit away.

Prayer is a way we can surrender our inadequacies to God and receive His help. When my children were very young, connection was a huge struggle for me. I wasn’t one of those women who always dreamed of having kids. Mothering was by far the most sacrificial undertaking I’d ever tried, and at times everything in me wanted only to be alone. But kids need their moms. And I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I failed my children here.

In prayer, I learned to fight against my inclination to shut down. I gained victory when I surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s power and decided to connect whether I felt like it or not. This process invariably yielded wonderful blessing. There’s nothing more satisfying than giving our children what they need, and I’m so thankful for God’s enabling in this area! However, I failed many times to accept His help, choosing instead to go through the motions of parenting in a disconnected way. I needed to make connection a habit.

I’m really amazed by what scientists have discovered about the brain. When we learn a new habit, our neuron firing patterns change. Those patterns change back if we unlearn the habit. They easily change back again if we pick the habit back up. So, even if we fall off the wagon, getting back on is easier if we’ve been there before. That’s great evidence of God’s continuing grace!

It takes 21 to 28 days to establish a habit, and up to 66 days to make it really stick. Somehow, my huge struggle to connect became easier over the years. I think it’s because connection became a habit. I love how God hardwired the ability to heal right into us!


Has connection been automatic for you, or a struggle?


30 comments:

  1. this is a wonderful post. So are there specific activities, actions that helped you connect more with your children?
    I went to a counselling class recently, how to help others in crisis. THere was an activity about connecting. We had to walk around the room, pick someone, stand face to face, look them in the eye. When we felt the connection, we nod, and say "I'm here." that was powerful..

    In our hurried lifestyle, smetimes I forget to connect to my children, though I spend time connecting with other friends. I guess, I tend to neglect my children, or assume we're connected coz we're always together. I'm rambling, but as I do, I realize, I need to connect more with my children. :) tx for this post

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  2. Thanks Martha! For me the best connecting happened when I would get down to their level and enter their play. Something I really resisted! I would lie on the floor when they were babies and play games with their teething toys, etc. Or with one of those tactile baby books that make sounds and include different textures, etc. As they got older we played make-believe games or did puzzles together, or played at the park. I found it exhausting but rewarding. Now they're 11, 13 and 15, and we connect more in conversation. I guess I should play their video games, too, but ugh! I think there are better ways to connect, lol!

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  3. This is encouraging for me, because I'm a doer, and connecting time can feel like "I'm not getting anything done!" The summer is the hardest time for me with this, because the chores pile up, but these bright little attention seeking eyes are always there. It is the most valuable thing i do, i have to remind myself.

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  4. Yes, I forgot to address that. I'm a doer too, very goal-oriented. That was the other reason I find connection so challenging! Thanks for mentioning that!

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  5. Oh, this sounds like just the support group of women I need! I'm also a doer. Very task and goal oriented. I can't tell you how much guilt I walk around with each day knowing that I should have walked away from the computer and spent time hugging my girls instead. Or I should have let the dishes sit in the sink so I could take time to color with Faith. Or I should have planned the day better so I could have worked on some crafts with Abby. I'm constantly feeling guilt because I want to connect with my kids and they want to connect with me, but let me just do this one thing first...

    Before I know it, the day has passed and I'm tucking them into bed for the night. Another day that I won't get back.

    Where's the balance?

    Blessings,
    Rosann
    http://www.christiansupermom.com/

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  6. Thanks for bringing this up, Rosann! I know how you feel. God doesn't want us carrying a load of guilt. When I struggle with guilt, He reminds me that I'm already holy in God's sight, because of Jesus. So I can approach connecting with a completely clear conscience! You are the perfect mom, in Christ.
    I'll try to write another post about balance. When we're free of guilt, we can go from task to task, interspersed with quality time with each child, in freedom. It's all about knowing we're equipped by God for the job. We can trust Him to lead us.
    Peace! ( :
    Lisa

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  7. Wow, Lisa, this is a very interesting shared text. It's authentic because it's spoken from a mother who has experienced what she is encouraging all mothers to do. Yes, yes, yes indeed, children do need their parents, and the Lord God has designed mothers to fulfill a specific task in the lives of the precious jewels he has loaned and entrusted to parents--His children.

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  8. Thanks, Kathy! I hope you enjoy your weekend, too. So nice to see you on here, Debora! Thanks for your affirming comment. Blessings, and have a wonderful 4th of July!
    Lisa

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  9. I really enjoyed reading this! I am always fascinated with the way the mind works and I frequently find myself trying to relate my sociological training to my children. As an introvert myself, I always felt my parents struggled to connect with me and it also makes it harder for me to connect with my children. But you are so right! Connection is incredibly important with children! Have you ever read Dr. Gary Chapman's "Five Love Languages?" It is a book that really helps me find ways to properly connect with my children. Great post!

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  10. Thanks, TyKes Mom! Yes, I've read some of the Five Love Languages. It was very helpful to figure out what my kids' languages are. Great point - this knowledge really can enrich our connections.

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  11. Re-Connecting with my teens has been more difficult than I wished. Over night they seem to turn into someone I hardly know anymore and it always throws me off. Luckily CL and I have learned that humor is a great connecting tool!
    Excellent article, Thanks!

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  12. Thanks, Becky Jane! I get that teenage thing, lol! Lately I've been finding that if I pay more attention to my son, things are easier. I tend to blow him off because I'm so busy and he's so... scientific, lol! He's quite a talker! He was at camp for two weeks, and it made me realize how much I love having him around.

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  13. Very nice post Lisa. I just tweeted it. More people need to read this. Visiting from voiceBoks.

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  14. I so could relate to this as well. I too feel things go so much better with my children when I am connected, but, like others have shared it can be so hard when there are so many things to do!!! This week my eldest son, 12, and I have been walking at a local state park, I find the doing, via walking, has helped me connect. Although I think he is trying to kill me with the paths that he likes to take!!! Lol!! It does feel so good when I can have that with him and my other children. I do think that I have to connect to myslef and God to actually have something to give to my kids. That's the challange. Thanks for making me think!! Great to catch up with you via VoiceBoks!!

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  15. My kids are 22 and 17. I think finding common ground and interests helpful. And it may sound odd but fake it sometimes. I sit with my daughter who has a fascination with ICarly, I don't care for the show and have things I could be doing but I sit with her and watch it. She knows I find it silly but I end up laughing and we bond. It's the little things. My son is a huge talker too. The upside is I learn things I did not know.Glad I stopped by. Interesting reading. Great site.

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  16. Connecting is such a huge thing. And easy to do if we as parents just take the few extra minutes to do it! Sure, I have put it off in the past in order to get this or that chore done and I always feel the mommy guilt afterwards. When I JUST DO IT, and take the time to have one-on-one time with each kid, that connectivity is amazing. And it builds!

    Visiting from vB!
    Smile and Mama With Me

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  17. Connecting with our children is so important. In the busy-ness of everyday life, it takes intention to stop and connect. For me, it is more difficult as they go through the early teenage years. One of my children, I feel like, is a stranger right now. I need to focus on connecting with him. Thank you for such a wonderful, timely post.

    Christina

    Visit me at Spilled Milkshake

    Visiting from voiceBoks!

    ♥ xoxo

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  18. Mine are 18-22 and it's nice to hear a mommy admit to making herself play with kids. I spent days as April O'neil (Ninja Turtles) - not much fun at the time, but I wouldn't trade those days for the world.
    Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
    It all begins with being honest, doesn't it? xoxoxo Love my "VB sisters" Anna

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  19. A beautiful post! I agree about the connection. I connected in a BIG way yesterday by playing with them intensely for over 2 hours. I always take time out to play with them, but it's not often that I have a block of time (or the inspiration) to do so for that long. We played "Hide the St. Joseph". It's an adaptation of hid the thimble that we made up. We were playing and laughing and connecting so deeply, I could jut FEEL the Lord in our midst.

    Samantha from vB

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  20. Awesome post-- stopping by from VB!
    www.prototypemama.wordpress.com

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  21. Hello, I am a new follower from Voiceboks. I would love it if you would visit my blog and follow me back at Valerie @ My-2-Cents

    Thank you
    Have a blessed week

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  22. Love, love, love your blog! I was a single mom of 3 for many years. Prayer and good friends are the only thing that saw me through. It sounds like you are strong and know how to rely on the Holy Spirit!
    I found you via voiceBoks!
    ~Erin
    www.mynuggetsoftruth.blogspot.com

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  23. Thank you all so much for the wonderful comments! It is so great to know other moms have the same struggles and experiences of God's faithfulness. God is SO GOOD!!! I love reading about how He is working in all of us and our children!
    love,
    Lisa

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  24. @Necky thanks so much for tweeting this! Blessings,
    Lisa

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  25. @Samantha, that sounds so fun! You've inspired me - two hours is more than I ever play with my kids these days! "Hide the St. Joseph" - you're hilarious! lol!
    Love ya!
    Lisa

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  26. I worked FT as a high school teacher before having kids, so spent a lot of time connecting with other people - it was/is a very satisfying career. Being a parent is harder in some aspects as there is not always (immediate) feedback about any connections you are making - it's a part of a large work in progress:) I do remember talking to a close friend of mine about connections parents make with their child - it was she who told me that any words spoken (in an attempt to make a connection) are heard much better when they follow a physical touch of some sort. (I think this is something that comes naturally to parents, but when you talk about it like this, it is a way of letting yourself know you are doing the right thing:)
    Thanks for sharing,
    Visiting from vB,
    Kristina

    www.icing-and-crumbs.blogspot.com

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  27. This is a good post, Lisa. What a necessary reminder. For me, it is more of a temptation to become absorbed in my own tasks now that the kids are bigger and more self sufficient. They don't need my direct supervision, so I have to make extra effort to spend quality time and connect with them.

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  28. I'm definitely in that task oriented/doer category, and I need to work on this. Thanks so much for an excellent post!
    Courtney
    http://www.mommyladyclub.com

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  29. It is very important to connect with our children.

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