The ABC’s of Improving Your Relationship with Your Kids
by Guest Author BJ Meurer, one of our trained coaches and seminar presenters
Too Busy for Change
As parents, we tend to get discouraged and frustrated by our kids’ attitudes, bickering, disobedience, arguing, and the constant struggle family life seems to be. We complain to friends, search online for answers, mention our struggles as prayer requests, try a little of this and a little of that, but nothing changes.
We know family life can be better, but we wonder if it is possible for our family or if we just have to struggle through it.
If you’re tired of the struggle, I have good news for you!
Jesus wants better for your family, and He’s empowered YOU to be the way He brings change.
Jesus’s answer to our struggle is simple: Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus wants to bring change to our families so that we may feel His rest and invite others to follow Him in His Kingdom … starting with our children and extending to the world.
To do this, we need to start with relationships.
Jesus Focuses on Relationships
God’s desire for relationships can be seen from the very first pages of the Bible as the Creator walks in the Garden with Adam and Eve.
That relationship was broken when humanity decided to go its own way. It is the restoration of that perfect relationship that has motivated God throughout time to be about the business of rescuing His creation and building His kingdom. So relationship clearly matters to God.
Jesus brings change through relationships. Throughout the gospels, we don’t see Jesus just calling people out on their sin (except perhaps in some interactions with religious leaders). He also never uses anger, manipulation, or control. Instead, Jesus stands for truth while practicing restraint, patience, and kindness in the context of relationships because “His kindness brings us to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
Jesus has blessed us and trusted us with our children, and He wants us to joyfully bring His Kingdom into their world. So if we’re going to follow Jesus’s lead, we too must put relationships first.
Now is the time for change.
The ABC’s of Relationship Work
While relationships can be complex and require work to address underlying issues, in many cases there is a ton that we parents can do to shake things up and make positive changes now to the relationships we have with our kids. Starting to make changes in relationships begins with the ABC’s.
Before we can move forward in a relationship, we need to assess. We need to prayerfully consider which of our children are feeling more connected, known, and valued to/by us and which one(s) may not be feeling this way. This is an early indication of where to adjust our parenting.
It is also helpful to assess how specific children best hear “love”. The concept of love languages is a staple in our culture, but too few of us take the time to think about how love languages may apply to our relationships with our children.
This does not require us to take some online assessment to figure this out. Just start thinking of things that make this child you are thinking of feel loved. You’ll soon notice a pattern.
Once you have a better idea of which child needs some strategic relationship work and what love language(s) speak best to that child, it’s time to start building a plan for change. One way to do this is to take a small calendar, 3×5 card, or even a post-it note, and write down 3-5 actions you will take in the next week to express love to your child.
You don’t need big, impressive, day-long trips and actions to express love. You just need small, consistent steps in the right direction (i.e. reading a book, giving extra hugs, going for a walk).
Building a simple plan is important for success. If we just come up with a few good ideas and think we’re going to do them without writing them down, we’re only fooling ourselves. Parenting is hard and life gets busy. Something changes when we write things down.
Now it’s time to connect with your child. Go out and do the things you planned to do. As you get started, here are a few quick tips:
- Pick only 1 child to focus on
- Plan your week(s) well
- Pray strategically for your relationship
- Prepare anything you need a day ahead
- Find a fellow parent to do this with to hold yourself accountable
- Give yourself grace if you miss a day
Not everything will change in just a week or two of doing this. Some children have a tougher shell built around their hearts. Other children may be a bit older and just need more time and intentional acts of love to break through. That said, if you start to look for ways to express love, you will start to see change happen.
If you want more help with getting started on this, grab your free copy of a resource I created titled Develop a Closer Relationship with Your Kid in 2 Weeks. You’ll be so glad you did.