Someone once said that parenting is a lot like football: children are on the offensive (trying to cross the line of scrimmage of our rules) and parents are on the defense (trying to close the gaps and present a barrier that cannot be penetrated). While the analogy is cute, it has a fundamental flaw in its presuppositions. As parents, we are on the SAME team as our children, not opposing ones.
If we consider ourselves as defender of the rules and expectations of the home and our children as set on breaking them, we create an innately adversarial environment. This “us against them” mentality undermines what God has in store for us as a family unit. He has created us as relational beings. HE is a relational being. He wants relationship with us; that is why He sent His Son to redeem us. His desire is that we will be in relationship with the members of our family as well. Just as the body of Christ functions best when each member does his part, the family functions best when each member is supported and encouraged to do their part. When one member is “sidelined” the whole team is affected.
The idea of a relationship between parents and children has been skewed in our culture. We have confused relationship with friendship. We seem to know that the relationship is essential, but often our attempts to achieve this have ventured too far into friendship territory. It seems like a difficult balance to achieve, but you can have a close and meaningful relationship with your children and still maintain your position as leader and authority figure. Think of it this way: you are not on opposite teams. You are not teammates. You and your spouse are the coaches and your kids are your star players. As the coach, you are invested in your children’s success and growth as team members and seek to come along side them to insure that they work toward that goal.
Here are some ways you can foster meaningful relationships with your children:
- Identify common interests
- Practice empathetic listening
- Wonder together
- Ask questions
- Create unique memories
- Cook together
- Volunteer together
- Be an encourager and cheerleader
- Get excited about what excites them
These are just a few ideas. How do you encourage and foster relationships in your family? Go team, go!