We live in a culture of busyness and distraction. This is really nothing new. There have always been ways to stay busy and distracted. But today, in 2016, there are exponentially more distractions to choose from—phones buzzing with notifications, televisions offering endless hours of entertainment, social media chattering incessantly, and schedules jammed with appointments and activities to sharpen and assess our kids at every point.
These distractions only get louder around Christmas. But you probably have some time off work, and your kids have time off school. How could you use the time together over Christmas to show your kids you care about them?
Pursuing and nurturing our children in an age of distraction takes a bit of discipline, intentionality, and selflessness. The specific ways we pursue and care for our kids at different ages will vary and mature as our children grow. Below are three simple places to begin.
- Look Them in the Eye
Eye contact communicates love, affection, and value. It shows that you are interested in what your child is saying or doing. That you respect them. That you want to be there, spending time with them. This simple and basic communication skill powerfully conveys to your child that they are not a distraction, a nuisance, or an obstacle to some other more important thing vying for your attention.
Eye contact also communicates that the relationship is intact. If eye contact is difficult for you or your child, there may be underlying anger, resentment, bitterness, or something else hindering the relationship that needs to be addressed.
- Play with Them
Playing with your child shows them that you take interest in what they are interested in—and by extension, that you take interest in them. For younger children, this might look like getting down on the floor and playing with them and their books and toys. As they grow, it may look like showing up for their concert or game. Take interest in what interests them. Do things together that they enjoy, not just what you enjoy or you wish they would enjoy.
- Listen to Them
Take the time to ask good questions and listen to their responses. Again, these conversations will mature as your child grows. Show interest. Enjoy truly knowing them at each age as they grow and change—how they think, what they like, dislike, get excited about, fear, etc.
Each of these ways we care for our kids requires our attention, which is a scarce resource. Which of these comes most naturally to you and your family? Which is most difficult? Are there hindrances or distractions that need to be addressed as you seek to nurture your children?
Hope for Orphans recently released the new ROOTED curriculum, designed to serve and equip families who adopt and / or foster. Learn more at hopefororphans.org/training/rooted/ or pick up your copy here.