OK, confession time: I am a not a perfectionist, I just like things to be done well 🙂 I have to admit, at times I am a bossy mum; routines, order, manners, etiquette, household rules and family culture I value highly, but in my experience, seeking connection and not driving for perfection is a healthier & happier way to build family life.
I love when my children bring home craft but I’m not exaggerating when I say I could have filled a room with it – there was a time I smiled & made excited noises about what they brought home, but I learned while I didn’t love the copious amounts of paper and glitter, I did love finding out the journey of it, who were they sat next to & what were they trying to express. The picture is the beginning of a conversation, ‘a connection point’.
What you might not know is God also loves our achievements & loves it when we do things that reflect Jesus. But like us as natural parents, he longs to know us more intimately. He is always on the lookout for ‘connection points’.
At our core we have what I call ‘God shaped holes’ – a need to know we are significant, to know our needs will be met, feel secure & we long to experience true acceptance & belonging. It’s part of the masterplan & God left hollows in our hearts knowing he could always fill them, both through those close human relationships & himself.
When we make connections we liberate ourselves from having to perform to be seen. When we experience true connection with the Father we create a circuit that keeps our faith alive & helps us resist hiding ourselves in words & task.
‘But whenever you pray, go into your innermost chamber and be alone with Father God, praying to him in secret. And your Father, who sees all you do, will reward you openly.’ Matt 6v6 TPT
Jesus is not just suggesting we pray somewhere in quiet, it’s an appeal to connect with Him & it’s because He hardwired us to seek out a ‘liberating fusion’.
Think of it like this – to connect with our kids, we need to know them & liberate them from having to perform to get attention and praise.
When life is busy and the days feel long just remember the seasons of childhood go really fast – Anon
Look, in our world there are many ways to ‘socially connect’. It’s essential to pursue true connection – vulnerability tightly fastens us to Jesus & couples us with the Holy Spirit, forging an authentic & rewarding faith. The reward for allowing God into our secret places is the outward change it makes & the change is what others notice – which in return increases our sense of significance, security and belonging & the bonus is this reassurance ‘I am fully known’.
That might sound complicated to apply to family life, but it isn’t. When we are vulnerable with our children in the quiet times of the day it gives them a confidence boost. There’s no way I could give them all of me all of the time and that’s not even healthy as a parent – but choosing to connect over trying to be perfect changes everything.
I take great comfort knowing that heaven celebrates me & my God esteems me & I don’t have to be anything but ME for this accolade. And I want my kids to know the same. And what I REALLY like about this, is when I go to the quiet chambers of my core, in prayer & reflection I am confident God will meet me there, and this is something I hope I have passed onto my children – a deeper, without need of explanation understanding that ‘connection beats perfection’.
Here’s one thing I’ve learned. There’s a reward for connection & that’s why it is so important for us to make this a natural part of family life.
Here’s something else: perfection is not a healthy goal, perfection makes us strive, perfectionism is a religion.
On the other hand, connection is a great goal. It helps us to build a God confidence in us & our children and a forges a more powerful relational bond.
So if its ok with you, I have 3 ways I belive we can intentionally connect with our children.
Positive Physical Touch
Give love freely no matter what age children are & no matter what challenges your relationships, finding a way to give positive physical touch is crucial to maintain connection.
I knew early on if I wanted to keep close to my kids I would have to be cunning & creative – so I am always the willing volunteer to be the home-made hair salon or on the operating table. It’s as simple as brushing a child’s hair, playing sport together, bounce and hold hands on the trampoline. Be brave – let them give you a make-over.
“In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.” Ray Williams
Picture this: A shout goes out from the living room for a ‘family pile on’ and all the kids come running from each corner of the house to squash mum or dad at the bottom of the pile.
You may have found over time your chance to engage in positive physical touch has diminished but it’s never to late to develop warmth. A safe hug as they leave or arrive (but don’t linger on teens, that’s well embarrassing), practice makeup or nail varnish with girls, have a foot rub. I have been painted, jumped on, bumped & bruised & soaked wet through from sledging.
Was it worth it? Absolutely!
Get to know them – become a student of your kids and never stop learning. There’s not many things more satisfying than to have someone genuinely interested in what interests you. Our children are the same. This is not about perfecting the art of conversation, this is about seeking moments when you can engage in discussion or activities that light them up; schools don’t leave much time for individuals.
Don’t underestimate the power you have as a parent. We are able to do something for our children that no one else can – make time for them.
Can I tell you your kids worst nightmare? When you grill them the moment they come home & start asking them a gazillion questions about who what where, it’s sure to send them running off in another direction.
Give them room to breath and instead of being the desperate ‘I need to know’ crazy person become the parent they want to tell everything to. To connect with our kids means we have to observe them, study them, watch what lights up their eyes, who makes their hearts skip a beat and what they think & then sensitively be interested and respond – this knowledge comes from allowing space to breath, talk and grow.
This is simple…but so effective.
Like it or not our distraction affects them – instead actively listen. We must do more than just sit in a room, nod and say a few how interesting’s. Slow down. If your children are small, get down on their level, look at them in the eye (not for too long as this can be awkward for anyone of any age). As you might expect, eye contact is the strongest form of nonverbal communication. BUT you may not know smaller children cannot always do this for long periods; there’s something very different in the development of children’s eyes which means it’s incredibly difficult for them to look us in the eyes & some kids even see double when they look at you close up.
I found super interesting article on it why kids avoid eye contact
‘So, how about re-thinking our demands for eye contact? For example, if what we really want is for our child to listen to us, we may actually have a better chance of that happening if we don’t require them to look at us. After all, most of us can probably concentrate a whole lot better if we’re not seeing multiple faces or if our eyes aren’t hurting like they do when we stare’ – the cortex parent
And now that you’ve got their attention, respond as needed, or just listen & not respond. So many times, my teenagers just want a sounding board, they do not want or need my advice, so I bite my lip and resist the urge to fix things and engage in great conversation while I am not distracted.
No, in all seriousness, the best advice I could give any parent, be there & fully there.
Why does this work so well?
Do you see how huge this is? There’s no one like you in the life of your children, just like there’s no one like God for all of us. We have an incredibly powerful and important job to do and for some of us only 18 years to figure it out – after that you of course never stop parenting but you do sigh a huge sense of relief that they are now on their own path into adult hood, and you hope you did enough for them to look after you in old age.
Connection has rewards, not only do you build confidence and a sense of belonging in your kids but you build a relationship with them that comes back to bless you later in life.
Love to you all
you may also like to read 3 Ways to Avoid Parenting Under Pressure & I recommend this book too https://www.amazon.co.uk/Present-Over-Perfect-Leaving-Frantic-ebook/dp/B01863JROC