Relationship over Activity
Have we lost sight of what relationships with our children should look like?
I can’t count the number of times that my wife, Melissa, and I have been so caught up in our hectic lives that we have needed to take a step back and ask each other whether what we have involved ourselves and our children in is actually benefitting our family or simply overwhelming us. There is a lot that is thrown at you before having children, how to raise them, what to do when they have a tantrum, etc. however, as long as you care and love them, and feed them correctly, not with 'metals found in food' products, then it should be okay, although for many it can be simply too much.
So many of us live lives worried about what our kids might “miss out” on and sign them up for everything – VBS, Youth groups, sports teams, music lessons and more. We, as parents, quickly turn into “taxi drivers” and chauffeurs without time to breathe or think until our kids are in bed. The problem with this is that by keeping a pace of life that is that busy, we risk stealing what’s most important for our children from them.
Children are born with an inner yearning for proximity. They need a relationship with their parents or primary caregivers, and with each person in their family. So often when older children make particular choices in life that the parents are concerned with they often say, “but I didn’t raise them to be like that.” Unfortunately, as good as the intentions of these parents’ have been, the reality is that parents may not be raising their children at all. Raising children requires time, both quality, AND quantity. As much as we think or hope that “time” with our kids, even if we are just watching them do an activity or driving them from one place to the next, is good, it is very easy to neglect the relationship in favour of activities and even leave our children feeling like they need to perform in order to gain our attention.
This can be difficult for single parents or parents who have to work a lot, who often need programs to help balance the load. Which is why it is important to “collect” your children when they come home. Being sure to be intentional to debrief their day, talk about random things, laugh, play, and share heart matters. Do the best you can with the time you have! Choosing to give your children the attention and time you do have, rather than taking them to an additional activity, will benefit them in incredible ways.
Spending time with our kids in ways that do not include other people or structured/programmed activities allows them to know that we care about WHO they are, not just WHAT they do. It leaves space and silence enough for us to be in each other’s presence and appreciate character traits and personality types and even opinions and interests. Our children need to be able to “rest in our presence” much like we are to rest in the presence of our Good Shepherd (Psalm 23). Having fun with them and playing with them, is incredibly important to their development and their relationship with us. It is worth the time and effort! Lets be intentional with the time we do have with our kids.
As the new school year begins and programs start, take the time to pre-emptively decide to avoid overwhelming both your life and your children’s lives with too much. Where you can, leave space for play, connection, relationship and opportunity for awareness of God’s presence. Doing so will help your child blossom to their full potential.
The full version of this article was originally published for the Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Church and can be found here.
Continue reading my series on "Redefining Boredom" with the following links: