Your kids pay attention to what you pay attention to.
They notice how you listen to them when they’re talking to you (especially when you ignore a phone call or text alert so you can keep listening to them).
They like it when you take them to a park and play with them versus sitting on a bench and passively watching.
Your kids recognize the subtle-yet-significant things you do to engage them; to see them, know them, and understand them. By being seen, they can then be known. By being known, they can then be understood. And when they feel better understood by you, they just might begin to feel better understood by God.
Watch how this plays out as you lean into what your son or daughter is experiencing and wondering to ultimately love and lead them into a deeper connection with God.
- “Do you see me?”: Give your kids your full attention many times throughout each day. Pay attention to the words they use, what they talk about, who influences them and what entertainment they’re into. Asking open-ended questions can communicate that you like talking with them, which creates a social connection between the two of you.
- “Do you know me?”: Tangibly remember the important things your kids said were coming up, like handing them a note of encouragement the day of a big test or recording a TV show they enjoy. Suggest new things that they might be interested in trying based on this knowledge, such as a particular restaurant or movie. When your kids feel like you know what they’re interested in or are working through, they’ll feel like you’re personally bonding with them.
- “Do you understand me?”: As parents we can often see what’s happening with our kids before they realize it themselves. Use such knowledge humbly, like hugging them when they’re feeling down without demanding a conversation about it. Your quiet compassion speaks volumes about your understanding and can even open them up for conversation later.
- “Do I understand God?”: As kids feel understood, they become more open to new ways of understanding God himself. Their questions may deepen beyond what you feel you’re able to address. Again, let your presence and love be consistent as you explore the answers together. Share your own stories as a way to help them enter God’s story.
- “Do I know who I really am?”: Your kids have a true identity that only God can reveal. The more they hear how he’s working in others, they more they can sense him at work in them. This requires multiple moments of growth, as faith is not just a one-time salvation decision but several decisions along the way. Spur this on by helping them plug into a church with loving people who will help them propel forward spiritually.
- “Do I see others like God does?”: Even kids who regularly take part in church may not necessarily see others as God does. Help them realize the significant role they can play in others knowing God better, perhaps by praying for friends at dinner or hosting a monthly pizza night where your kid can practice the gift of hospitality by serving the other kids they invite.