Building Relationship
with Our Children

taken from the June 1999 newsletter of
Deeper Life Ministries

Summer vacations are here, and children are out of school! For most children, this is an exciting change, promising relief from school work and more play time. Longer ago, parents viewed summer vacation as providing more hands for the summer work.

But we live in a changing world. Fewer family farms. Smaller families. Mechanized ways of doing things. More away-from-home activities. Faster living. Coming and going.

For some families, summer vacation means a time when children will have a lot of unsupervised time. Or a time they will be enrolled in other group activities -- sports, summer camps, swimming classes, summer Bible schools, etc.

The modern mindset is that children are provided for when they are having fun with other children their age level.

Children do enjoy other children. And there is a proper place for group activities. But in the confused values and hectic schedule of this day, children need relationship with their parents more than ever. Many well-meaning parents believe they are providing for their children when in truth they are neglecting them.

Children need the security of solid relationship with their parents. No one but parents can provide that for their children.

In the absence of solid relationship with their parents, children may be kept busy having fun, and be empty. It affects their behavior -- they seek attention inappropriately. It affects their attitudes -- they are uncooperative, moody, or even hostile. It affects their ability and productivity -- they lose interest in activities that could be enjoyable and helpful to their development.

So how do we build relationship?

The answer is not difficult. It is a fundamental law of relationships: we need to spend enjoyable time together. That is how relationships are built.

Following are some practical ways for parents to build relationship with their children.

  1. Take the time to listen when your children tell you about something that happened to them. (If they don't come with their stories, you have major catching up to do.)
  2. Play games together, indoor and outdoor.
  3. Read stories to them.
  4. Tell them stories about when you were a child.
  5. Take walks together. Point out things they may miss, and let them point out things to you.
  6. Take bike rides together. Teach them road safety.
  7. Repair their broken toys.
  8. Have a cookout.
  9. Protect family times from interruption. Don't allow the telephone to rob you of time set aside for them.
  10. Give affectionate touch.
  11. Notice when they do something or make something. Give them time to explain how they did it. Express praise, approval and appreciation.
  12. Plan special surprises for them.
  13. Take family outings. (Visit a park, go camping, or visit a museum or other points of interest.)
  14. Work together. As you work, explain the project and teach them new skills.
  15. When you see your child frustrated with a task, take time to explain and show how, demonstrating a pleasant attitude as you do so.
  16. Pray and worship together as a family.
  17. Teach your children to make things -- toys, crafts, bird houses, dolls, clothes, etc. Show them how to use and maintain tools properly.
  18. Keep your promises.
Every parent who reads this list of suggestions can easily see a sobering truth: we cannot build relationship with our children without spending time with them. The number one hindrance to building relationships is being too busy. As parents we must accept the reality that we cannot do everything available to us in our communities, in our occupations, even in our churches. Among the thousand things calling for our attention, we must prioritize.

Even if cutting back on a work schedule would mean a lower standard of living, would that be so bad? Living without the latest conveniences doesn't really hurt children. Being neglected does.

Let's not sacrifice relationship with our children for things that won't matter a dime when life is done.

John Coblentz

Send this article to a friend!
Your email address:

Their email address:

Note to them: optional


DLM newsletter article index

[Anabaptists: The Web Page]