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.”
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)?
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
I will be honest with you and say that two of my children’s love languages are easy for me; I speak their language with ease and fluency. Yet two of them have unnatural languages, even a little annoying to me at times. I started learning more about love languages when I became a single mom, and I assure you the LAST, the very last thing this mama wanted to do was to be childlike and play a game to get that quality time in. Ugh! It was almost painful for me to speak their language of quality time, especially since I was already with them 24/7, non-stop. But my children mattered to me, and God has entrusted me to steward them well. I was learning to lay ME down to fill THEM up. I am a good representative of A SIDE of Jesus, but Jesus has many sides, and my children allow me to become more like Him and walk in greater love as I let their NEEDS grow me into being more like Jesus. John 15:13-14 (TPT) – “For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.”
In America, we do not trust a child’s ability to operate a motor vehicle until they are eighteen. We do not believe a young adult can responsibly consume alcohol before age twenty-one. Yet in the Word, which is loaded with promises and commands, not once are we given an age restriction. I want you to soak in this for a moment. The same Holy Spirit that touched Jesus – resurrecting Him from DEATH – is the same Spirit that dwells in half-pint, snot-nosed children. The Spirit of GOD ALMIGHTY is the same Spirit that operates in YOUR child. Go ahead, be a little undone by that concept because it IS huge! It is to be honored, valued, and highly respected. I often rally the kids and ask them what Jesus wants to say to us. They often hear divine wisdom that was beyond my logical thinking. This is a fun, empowering way for them to practice hearing God’s voice. Try this today in your home: “Hey kids, let’s ask Jesus _______.”
I have a resource called Encountering the Father. In this digital download, you will receive a teaching on how to encounter the Father as a family, along with over 100 encounter question cards. Order yours here: Encountering the Father EBook – Let the Children Fly
The church is not closed – never has been – never will be, according to Ephesians 3:21. If you are not able to go to the church building of your choice tomorrow, CREATE YOUR OWN. Doing church at home is a great way to come together as a family. Have someone pick out a verse to share and discuss it as a family. YouTube is loaded with worship songs that have the words on the bottom. Pass juice and bread/crackers and take Communion together, talking about the meaning. Go around in a circle and share one thing you are thankful for (keep the game going until you run out of things to think of). Put on worship music (with or without words) and just lay quietly as a family, enjoying the peace of His presence. Ask Jesus what He wants to say to each person and spend time asking, listening, and sharing. Spiritual intimacy is great for family connections. Gather the kids and ask them for ideas – they always come up with great ideas.
Remember that the Kingdom is JOY – partnering with JOY as a family for your home church brings the Father great delight. Play a game, laugh, be silly and enjoy the JOY. Invite another family over to join you!