Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ten minutes on the couch, fifteen minutes on the floor

More than twenty years ago when I was teaching Bible study to a divergent group of young moms, I was telling one toddler-holding mom about some ordinary everyday adventure with one of our four school-age daughters.

She looked me in the eye.  "When do you start to develop a close relationship with your kids?" she asked, her eyes motioning towards her two year old daughter who was playing with a toy on the floor.

"Right now," I said.

This young mom wanted a formula -- do this, that and that -- when your kid is a certain age, and  out pops a intimate relationship and a perfect kid.

There are no magic buttons when it comes to parenting or any other kind of relationship, but some things nurture and others not so much.

One friend was distraught over her quiet son who had begun some not so pleasant patterns of behavior.  He was fine at school, but at home, constantly bickering and fighting with his two very vocal sisters.

"Ten minutes on the couch," I recommended.  "Spend ten minutes a day with him alone, one on one.  If the girls enter the room, tell them they'll have to wait.  This is your special time with their brother."

She rolled her eyes at me.

She began after school on an ordinary Tuesday, drawing her son over to the couch.  They began to talk about his day.   Sure enough, the girls burst into the room.  She began to get up, but then said, "You girls will have to wait.  This is Jack's turn."  As she turned back to him, his eyes were gleaming.

She emailed me, "You wouldn't believe the difference in our family."

In another family with small children, as soon as the dad gets home from work, he gets down on the floor and plays with the kids.  On. The. Floor.  Fifteen minutes.  The kids can't wait for him to get home.

I regret all the times when the girls wanted me to play Barbies with them.  And I was often too busy for that.  That is one of the things I wish I could rewind.  They went on and played.

But I was the one who missed out.

It is not that you should be in your kid's face all the time, but that there are everyday moments devoted to abide with them.  Not dependent on special big events, but the profound stuff of doing ordinary life together.

That is what relationship is all about.

Abide in Me...

          John 15. 4

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