This is the fifth part in the series Making Relationships Matter
When my children were babies, it was so much easier to bond with them. I could easily “wear” them inside my baby carrier, take them hither and yon, nurse them as needed and take warm naps with them in the afternoons.
They didn’t think twice about needing to be held, asking for hugs or giving out kisses. They easily nestled in my lap when it was time to read our favorite books and stories.
But as we all know, babies are not babies forever. They grow up. And they grow up quickly.
I am constantly having to remind myself that just because they are no longer babies doesn’t mean they don’t need me anymore. As they continue to grow, their needs change and I simply have to be more present to them in a different way. What was once an easy task of physical bonding has now grown into an ever growing need for emotional connection.
1 . Value their passion and interests
One of the ways we can bond with our children is to value their interests. The first step to do this is to listen. Aside from providing opportunities for them to further their passion and interests, one very simple thing I can ask my children is:
What was your favorite part of the day?
Most of the time, they will talk about what interested them the most, like something they learned from a nature walk, a new book or field trip. Other times, they will talk about a particular event or emotion that affected them in a very powerful way.
2 . Acknowledge Their Emotions
I remember a time last summer when my seven-year old daughter went with her Papa to run some errands. When she later came home, I noticed that she looked pensive and not her usual bubbly self. I asked her about it and she just couldn’t articulate her emotions at that time. Right before bedtime, I wanted to revisit what had happened and asked her a very simple question:
Did anything make you sad today?
She finally opened up and told me that when she and her papa were running errands, she saw a ramp with a handicap sign that was unusually small. She automatically assumed that because the sign was small, the ramp was only meant for children on wheelchairs.
Then it dawned on her that there are children in the world that could not walk and have to use wheelchairs. This thought made her so very sad the entire day. Had I not asked her these simple words, I would never have been able to console her troubled heart.
Even if we are all living under the same roof, sometimes we get so busy that we forget to ask our children about what is happening inside their hearts. Taking the time to listen and acknowledge their emotions is another beautiful way to connect with our children. These simple questions may include:
- What made you happy today?
- Did anything make you anxious or nervous?
- What made you sad today?
3 . Focus on the Blessings
We can all agree that some days are better than others. But even when we are constantly experiencing tough days, the reality is that we always have something to be thankful for. One of my favorite ways to bond with my children is to ask what they are thankful for. Simple questions we can ask are:
- What three blessings are you thankful for today?
- Tell me three beautiful things that happened to you today?
- How did you feel loved today?
It is so touching to hear responses such as “I am thankful for today’s sunshine” or “I am thankful for the pretty stream in our backyard”. One of my favorite responses from my older children is “I am thankful for my family, the roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food on our table.”
Though these responses may sound a bit cliche, it is still heartwarming to hear children being thankful for things that most people, even myself, take for granted.
4. Cherish Your Homeschool Journey
It felt like only yesterday when I was teaching my first-born kindergarten and seeing her as a freshman this year reminds me that I will not be homeschooling these little ones forever.
Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to not only teach our children but also bond with them as much as we can before they grow up and fly on their own.
A Memory From Our Past
I want to leave you with some words from our favorite lullaby written and sung by Mindy Gledhill. This song is a poignant reminder to cherish this special time with my children and to be more mindful that these little ones will not be little forever.
…Stories read, prayer is said
Close your eyes, sleepyhead
While angels linger in your dreams
And hold you in their feathered wings
Just like you, I was small
Not so long ago at all
I wish you all the happiness
That God gives freely if you ask
When you reach for the stars
Don’t forget who you are
Please don’t turn around
And grow up way too fast
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes
A memory from our past
Life’s an hourglass…