How to Connect with Your Kids — Even When You’re Opposites!

connecting parent child opposites

US Dept of Education | Flickr


Let’s be honest: sometimes relating to our kids is hard.

Yes, some of the time connecting with kiddos is easy — especially with the ones that seem like little versions of ourselves, where we can easily spot similarities and shared interest.

But what do we do when connecting with our kids doesn’t come so easily? How do we find ways to genuinely connect with even the most oppositely-wired kiddos?

First, the road you travel to connect with your children will grow out of your unique gifts and interests. Discovering this is an important aspect of your Foundation for parenting.

An important thing to keep in mind as you look for intersections with your child is this: “If God has given me a particular child, he has given me the unique capacity to connect with that child.” With a child who loves physical touch, that could either be gentle affection or wrestling and rough play. A verbally oriented child may go on long, chatty dates with a gregarious parent and exchange silly emails with a quieter parent.

When I discover the intersections of interests/personalities I have with each child, I can nurture these as “intersections of joy.” The effort to discover the combination of my unique capacity and my child’s unique needs may require some trial and error and searching, but it is a worthwhile search.

I know one particular father and daughter who seem as opposite as night and day. He is introverted. She is extroverted. She loves loud music and flashing lights, while he loves a quiet evening with a book. He loves the outdoors and solitude, but she loves the action of the city. She is abstract. He is concrete. These differences drove them apart as she approached adolescence. Her lifestyle choices strained their relationship further. The dad wanted desperately to connect with his daughter, but his efforts felt unnatural and she met them with resistance. After much encouragement to try to find some intersection of passion or interest, he discovered that she loves racecars – and he does too! His efforts to connect with her by taking her to a few races meant the world to her and renewed some of the sense of connection they shared when she was younger.

The moral of the story? Connecting with kids — even ones that seem totally opposite from ourselves — is truly a case of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Keep prayerfully seeking those “intersections of joy” with your children. You’ll be glad you did.

Apply It Now:

  • What unique God-given gifts and capacities for connection has God given me?
  • With a willingness to stretch my creativity and expressiveness a bit, how could I use them to connect better with family members?

This post is an excerpt from our book, How to Grow a Connected Family.