My mother once read a biography of Susanna Wesley, mother of the hymn writer and evangelist who founded the Methodist Church. It described how Susanna Wesley, mother of 19 children, gave each one individual time during each week. Granted, not all lived to adulthood, but still very impressive.
|Susanna Wesley, Sower Series|
I read the biography, too, but did not learn the value of special time from Susanna. My mother implemented a special time then and there upon reading the wisdom of a mom who raised incredible children despite difficult circumstances. I was a teenager at the time and it made a big impression on me. Susanna had some pretty cool house rules, too. You can read them at Raising Godly Children.
Special time works wonders for your relationships with your children. Try me on this and you will see. Here is why it works. It works for the same reason getting away together is good for marriage. It works for the same reason that grabbing lunch or a cup of coffee is good for a friendship. Relationships require maintenance. If there is no sharing, if you do not listen, if you do not let the other person know you care, it is not a relationship. If you do not have the heart of your child, you are not parenting. If you do not have the love and respect of your child, you are more like his school principal, cafeteria lady, or sometimes, jailer. You are not living the full life that is yours in Christ. (John 10:10). There is nothing to be gained by emotionally withdrawing from a poorly behaved child. But there is a relationship to be lost. That would be modeling emotional immaturity for the child and will ensure that they have poor communication skills and childish behaviors that guarantee unhappiness in marriage and employment, not to mention few friends.
In Matthew 14:23, Jesus modeled setting aside time for a one on one relationship with His Father. When our offspring are children, it is our duty to pursue and establish the one on one time that they are not mature enough to know they need. When relationships with our children are rough, it is surely time to take them for an hour, a day, even a weekend and LISTEN. Do not lecture. Ask open ended questions and really listen for where your child is emotionally, spiritually, developmentally. If you are brave enough, then ask the child how they think the relationship is going.
Special time can be a very special event or occasion. It can also be taking one child at a time with you when you are running errands. We stop for an iced tea or a donut. The car is a great place to talk. Eye contact can be intimidating. Sitting next to each other allows lets some kids say things that they would not say to you if they were turned to face you. Even going to work with mom or dad can be special time. Special time can be started at any point from babyhood to adulthood. It is never too late to work on your relationship with your children. Some of our favorite special times have been watching the sunrise at the beach, watching the sunset at a park, exploring new cuisines and bakeries we find on Yelp, academic lectures on interesting topics, paddleboarding, kayaking, bike riding, concerts, shows, and antiquing. When your relationship with your child is hurting, time together is a place to start.
See also my post on dealing with an angry child.
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