Regardless of which paradigm you have for the best way to educate your kids, you most likely have an important underlying goal in your parenting: to connect well with your children and pass on your faith and values. This is true whether you’re spending all day teaching your kids at home or greeting them as you all return from work or school. If you want your kids to stay connected with you, and grow in the faith and values you are teaching them, you must be present. Being present with our kids is more than just sharing space with them.
“Mom, we can tell you’re not listening when you just say, ‘That’s nice.’”
By present we don’t just mean physically present. It is our “job” to organize schedules, teach lessons, make meals, give rides, or negotiate the use of the car. Presence is more than sharing air. The essence of presence is sharing hearts – through full engagement with your child. When a parent is truly present with their child, that child knows she is respected, enjoyed, and heard.
One mom told us of this insight from her son about presence, “Mom, we can tell you’re not listening when you just say, ‘That’s nice.’”
The flip side of that, and what this little guy couldn’t articulate, is – “When you stop and look at us and get excited with us, that’s when we know you’re listening!”
Here are some practical ideas to be fully present with your children:
- Put down what you are doing, and listen (really listen!) to your child. (In the same way you would want a spouse or friend to listen to you.) To be inspired read this article from Hands Free Mama.
- Start the day when you see them (or as you send them off to school) with a prayer or blessing and a hug.
- Talk about something that totally interests your child.
- Simply watch them for a bit, and marvel at their uniqueness.
- Share a fun story from when your child was an infant or preschooler.
- Develop a connecting habit as you greet them each day – power hugs, fist bump routine, make a smoothie together, wrestle, play catch or dolls… you get the idea.
- If you homeschool, adapt to fit their unique interests: take time to enjoy the outdoors, chase frogs, or even do your work in a big fort tent with them.
- Enjoy your kids!
We are excited to offer a Connected Families Framework magnet to you for only $5! (This price even includes shipping and handling!) It can help remind you of all you are learning through the podcasts. Order one for your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your car, or wherever you might need a quick reminder as you seek to lead your family with grace. (Live outside the United States? You can print a copy of the framework here.)