No mom would be proud to say they feel disconnected from their kids. No one wakes up and says, “Gee, I sure hope I don’t connect with my children today.”
Nope. No one. Ever.
But, it happens. And I would venture to say…to most every mom.
I may be with my children everyday, all day, but yet last night I realized this has become a truth in my own life.
I am disconnected from them.
Last night I laid beside Gavin at bedtime. We went through the usual routine: prayer, story, song.
I usually ask him what was good about his day and he replied as he does often, “Daddy coming home.” They adore their father, they get excited when he walks through the door, which I am so thankful. This is probably normal for many stay-at-home moms. But tonight, I pressed a little deeper-maybe because I was feeling a little left out, “What was something good about your day with mommy?”
Nothing. Blank stare into the side of the bed. I asked him 2 more times, each time with a smile and a change in my voice inflection, trying to get him to say something!
Now at this point, I was trying to figure out if he was just tired, was he thinking about something else, was he distracted (which is common for a 4 year old) or was he really struggling to find the good in his day with mommy? I leaned over to look at his precious face.
Nothing. He was just staring blankly at the bed.
It hit me at that moment. For a four-year-old life is about fun and joy and playfulness..but for him today there had been none of that with mama.
Now, in my mind I was thinking, ” What? We went for a play date today, I made you lunch, I let you watch some shows, I…..”
Then it hit me. I did nothing with him. Taking care of his necessities of bathing and feeding and cleaning up toys didn’t give him any joy. I was saddened at that moment.
Then after a long silent pause, he turned and looked at me and said, “Playing with mommy.”
I said nothing.
He rolled over and I sang him a song, I prayed over him, kissed him good night and walked out. Saddened that the one thing he finally spoke of being good about his day with mommy—never happened.
I never played with him.
And I must confess it’s been a long while since I have sat down and played with him.
I spend everyday with him. We go for walks, we read together, I do educational games with them, I work on his alphabet and numbers, I take them places, I take them to the park, play dates, I clean his room, I let them play outside.
But play with him? Nope. I haven’t done that. Not for awhile.
Now I know that it isn’t possible, necessary or healthy to play with our kids all day long. They need time alone, to be creative but they still in their hearts long to have those precious moments of “play” time with mommy.
The truth is difficult to swallow sometimes. He longs to play with me, to laugh with me, to have fun with me. His mommy. He longs for me to enjoy being with him.
But I’m always engaged in something else. Always I’m multitasking because that is the only way I’ll ever get anything done and I have SO much to do. Always I’m consumed with accomplishing something. Always something else takes priority. But just being here with my children doesn’t translate to connected parenting. I’m disconnected from my children.
So what does it mean to be connected?
It means to be joined, linked together or plugged in.
I must plug into my kids. Be linked together with them, joined with them, be a part of them and their lives. Just living with my children, feeding them, taking care of their necessities isn’t being connected to them. I must seek out ways to connect with them. If I want to be connected with them as teenagers, I need to learn to connect with them today.
Having multiple children poses even more of a challenge. Each of my children is unique, as are yours, and connecting to them looks different for each child.
I must get to know each child. To know how to best connect to them.
And it’s not just about “playing with them” although at my children’s ages this is important, but its about truly connecting , loving them where they are as they are. Engaging them. Seeing them for who they truly are. Enjoying them. Studying them. Knowing them.
So, here are 3 ways the Lord has shown me what to do when you feel disconnected from your child.
3 Ways To Connect With Our Children
1. Engaging them. Nothing substitutes time spent with our children. To engage is to consume all of ones’ attention, to participate in an activity. Spending quality time with them while engaging my whole being-mind, heart and soul. Be all there.
2. Enjoying them. Take delight in them. Have you ever been with someone you knew wasn’t having a good time? It makes me uncomfortable. I can’t be me when I’m worried they aren’t enjoying themselves. I can’t be joyful knowing they are not. This is also true with my kids. If they don’t see joy in me when I am with them, it’s hard for them to enjoy themselves. They know when I’m only there in body and not having any fun. Kids are very perceptive. Enjoying them means receiving benefit from having been with them. Do they believe I have benefited from time with them or that I went through the motions?
3. Knowing them. I have been convicted lately to start studying my kids everyday. Taking notes. Paying attention to what they like, don’t like. What makes them tick, what brings them joy. What their love language is. To know someone is being aware of information that is known to few people. I get the blessing of knowing my kids, of knowing the details that few people will ever know about them. In our culture of superficial relationships and busyness, most of us will remain anonymous to others. Who we really are will stay unknown to most. And if no one dares to invest in us, to really get to know us, we will more than likely have difficulty knowing our true selves and an even harder time believing in a God who knows us intimately.
Being known means someone knows the truth about who we are in our hearts, minds and souls and loves and accepts us as we are. Being known gives us confidence to become who God created us to be.
Much of our troubles today come from being unknown to anyone. A lack of connection to others and ultimately to God.
I am so thankful for this moment with my son. Don’t let these moments reveal your shortcomings, let them remind you of a God who reveals truth and shows us a better way.
Please share ways you have found to connect to your children.