Sometimes I feel as if my own child is drifting away from me. Even though we live in the same house, it’s like the Grand Canyon is between us. Have you felt this way? A wedge came between you, you have a hard time relating, or you just haven’t had much time together. Well, the most important part of figuring out how to reconnect with your child has already happened! You realized there is distance between you.
The first thing you need is a “Physical Closer.”
These are the physical actions we take to show our kids that they are a top priority in our lives and that we want to invest in our relationship. Here are 3 to try.
Spend time together.
This may seem impossible when life is busy, but you can carve out one hour of time from your schedule. Put this relationship at the top of your list for a little while. Even if you’re out of town, escape for a 30-minute FaceTime with your child. Get a babysitter for your other children so you can focus on the one who’s distant. Cancel a meeting or forgo Laundry Day. Your child will notice you made him or her a priority. Time together is often the groundwork for healing.
Do something your child loves to do.
What’s your child into right now? What does he or she get excited about? Do that. I know—it’s not your cup of tea to play Xbox or ride rollercoasters, but children will be more likely to open up if you start with something they are passionate about. Showing you are interested in his or her passions will begin to reconnect you.
Ask Pillow Talk questions.
Resolve to ask iMOM’s Pillow Talk questions every night at bedtime for the next week. Kids often want to procrastinate before they go to sleep, so they’ll welcome the opportunity to stall. For kids who think they’re too old for a tuck-in, ask them for 5 minutes to talk each night. Ask these simple questions and see if it gets some conversation and connection going. And if bedtime goes a little late, who cares? You’re working on closing the gap, so it’s worth it!
The second thing you need is a “Heart Closer.”
These are the expressions of the heart that, although difficult or even messy, address the wounds and needs of both of you. Does this take courage? Yes. But simply doing the Physical Closers is not going to fully heal a heart. Heart closers are necessary, too. Here are 3 ideas.
Offer confessions or apologies.
Sure, you may feel some bitterness, but don’t hang onto it. Your child is a child, after all. Be the leader and confess or apologize for your part. See where the conversation goes after that. Be open to talking through the issue—it may not even be personal. There might be something else going on at school or at home that you weren’t aware of. If you have no idea what to apologize for, simply start with, “I feel like there’s a gap between us lately. Is there something I did? Do you want to talk?”
Your child may need forgiveness spoken out loud to know that the gap is truly closed between you. They may not even forgive themselves until you encourage them to do it. Offer this gift—the gift of grace.
Express love or gratitude.
These can be expressed in so many ways. Maybe it’s a physical hug, kiss, or foot rub. Maybe it’s in saying, “I love you, and I’m so thankful for you in my life.” Maybe it’s a card or a gift. Even if you aren’t feeling the warm fuzzy feelings at the moment, even if your apology didn’t seem to be accepted, express love anyway. There’s power in love. After all, “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
It’s really easy to ignore the gap, for a while. You can say, “Oh, she’s just stubborn,” or “He’ll get over it.” But the gap will widen if unattended. Swallow your hurt feelings and jump into the gap. You may find that it closes a lot easier than you thought it would.
How do you reconnect with your child?