Connection

Without this tool we can become the wedge between Father God and our children

HUG IT OUT

My spiritual daughter shared how God is leading her family in this season: “A new thing our family has started doing is asking, ‘Do you need a 20-second hug?’ And teaching them how to ask for one. A 20-second hug can… increase levels of oxytocin (the love hormone), reduce blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone), increase happiness, lower stress, improve relationships, and connection.”

I SEE YOU

Whip up a batch of cookies as an after-school snack and sit with them, talking about their day for an extended period of time. Go deeper than the “How was your day?” You are giving them the gift of being seen and heard.

Get moving – nothing stirs up our natural endorphins like exercise. Pick them up from school, play some family basketball, kick the ball around, or play tag. Join the fun and play with them. You are giving them the gift of play which is critical for a child’s brain.

Joy – Find a pocket of joy today (simply doing something that ignites great joy). Jump on the bed, dance in the rain, have a wrestling match or tickle attack, or cook together. Joy increases the chemical in the brain to endure hard things. You are giving them the gift of hope.

Speak truth over them – remind them of who they are. Call out their identity. “You are my favorite,” “You are passionately loved and fiercely wanted,” “You are unique and special,” “You bring me joy.” You are giving them the gift of being valued.

Which one will you do today (for their heart and yours)?

BIG DEAL TO A SMALL CHILD

Do you have preschoolers or toddlers at home who are extra whiny and demanding? Consider that older siblings are now home from school and your time and attention are not fully on them anymore. This is a big deal to small children, and their hearts matter, too.

HEALING HUGS

My friend shared: “Our oldest was having a hard time tonight. Overtired, over being quarantined, whatever the reason, he was really struggling. My husband swooped in and gave him a hug that lasted probably 5 minutes. And all was well in the world again. As parents, knowing when a timeout or other discipline is needed is a skill. Or when it’s time for a long, wordless, healing hug, I’m thankful to witness my husband parent our kids this way – and I’m grateful that the Father of heaven also parents us with such kindness.”

15-MINUTE DATES

A mom from our online Kingdom parenting class shares this powerful strategy to connect with her children. I wish parents could see that God uses our children to align, heal, and restore what was stolen, lost, or hurt in our own childhood. This is His design for family restoration. 

She shares: “I hinder my connection with my children at times by making myself distant or unavailable. I do this because I become overwhelmed and stressed and just want to disconnect from ‘parenting.’ My folks were this way to an extreme when I was growing up. In the last month or so, I have begun to dedicate 15 minutes per day with each kiddo just to connect with them. I knew this would be good for my kids, but I have been astounded by how much that has helped me feel at ease, more confident, intentional, and joyful again. I went through a season where I literally forgot how to have FUN with them! All I could see was all the work, and I was sorely burned out. He is restoring my heart.”

CONNECTION

Without connection, we can use spiritual tools to drive a wedge between our children and their Father. The Pharisees were all about obeying the law perfectly, and Jesus was about the person. We can parent to keep our children in line with perfect expectations, or we can parent the child as an important, valuable, and unique human being who is in training to become a successful adult. One focuses on what they DO, while the other focuses on who they ARE. 

I used to parent based on my child’s behavior, modeling the popular WWJD – “What would Jesus do?”. Jesus never hit, backtalked, pinched his sister, slammed doors, disobeyed, etc., so whenever those ‘ungodly’ traits would appear, I would discipline for it. I was a strong believer in raising kids who modeled the outward behavior of Jesus. I probably would have even admitted that it didn’t matter much what was going on inside their hearts because if I could train them to do it ‘right’ on the outside, eventually, it would sink into their heart. Anytime they were out of line, I felt anxious, and in my view, I thought I looked bad to others. If my child had a meltdown at the mall or displayed a lack of self-control at a restaurant, it meant I was a bad mom. It was a fear-based cycle of needing to control their outward behavior so that I felt good about myself as a parent. Their immature choices were more about my feelings than their training and development. I’m not sure parenting ever works that way, but what it produces is legalism and a religious spirit that tells the child that we don’t really care about what is happening inside them; we want them to perform to make us feel good. Kids are taught their behavior matters and they do not. They are taught God is a ruler maker who disciplines imperfection. They are trained to hide their true selves. They are introduced to isolation and loneliness. They feel like something is wrong with them. Can you relate? Is Holy Spirit showing you that there is room to grow in your focus from controlling their outward behavior to parenting the heart? If yes, we have to respond to Him. There won’t be any transformation unless we are willing to let Him move us. 

HeartWork: Grab your journal and spend some intentional time today asking for forgiveness for caring more about your child’s behavior than their heart. Cry out to God, ask Him to teach you how to parent the way He parents us. He cares about your heart.

RESTORING CONNECTION

 A mom messaged me, saying that her daughter believed lies and had shut down. She wanted my help with how to handle it. This is an excellent example of being led by the all-knowing Holy Spirit and not just checking off a religious formula to fix your child. I first asked her WHAT the lie was. She replied that the daughter believed her parents were abusive and did not love her. While that was obviously a lie, it was the daughter’s truth. I asked the mom to ask Jesus what He thought of the daughter’s words. The mom humbly returned to me, reporting that Jesus showed her that she was using a tone and responding in a way that was hurting her daughter. Can you see how a religious mindset would have disciplined the child for being so ‘un-Christ-like’ when the reality was that the mom needed to hear something? The daughter doesn’t have the language yet to explain her heart, but the words ‘don’t love’ and ‘abusive’ were the best things she had to describe her heart. The mom repented to God, and then her daughter and their heart connection grew. Can you guess what the daughter’s love language is? Children who hear love through words are very sensitive to yelling, harshly spoken words, and overreacting parents.

I WASN’T LISTENING

I love, love, love when moms write to me with their excitement over partnering with Holy Spirit in their parenting. 

A mom shares: “I want to thank you for all of your posts about letting the Holy Spirit guide you in parenting. My son was having a serious meltdown this morning because of a change in plans for the weekend. As he was screaming at me, I thought I needed to pray and listen to what he was really trying to say. I asked him again what he was really upset about, and he told me, ‘Their dogs.’ He was afraid to stay at his cousin’s house because of their dogs. But I wasn’t listening. I was just trying to make plans and move on. I have yet to take any of your classes, but the Lord is using you through your posts to work on my heart and how I parent. Thank you.”

LIKE JESUS

Learning to love your children well provides YOU with an opportunity to know and reflect a SIDE of Jesus. Example: If your child has a love language of quality time and values playing together, but you do not value childlike play, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Example: If your child has a love language of words of affirmation and you do not value speaking mushy words, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about using your words, building others up, and bringing praise to your lips. Example: If your child has a love language of touch, but you do not value affection, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about receiving healthy and appropriate touch. Example: If your child has a love language of acts of service, but you do not value having to do things for them, God is using the way He wired your child to teach YOU about joy and play. Pressing in and learning how to speak THEIR language allows US to grow in being more like HIM.

LEGALISM DOESN’T WORK

It is impossible for a child to feel like they have significance when they are raised in a legalistic household because they never measure up.