I've was away at Spring Harvest a couple of weeks ago, it's a large Christian festival that our family have been going to each Easter-time since our kids were born. It's a time I absolutely love as the kids get to go to groups each morning and evening (now they are older) and spend time with other kids that share our faith. Then my husband and I get time to be together - to have a coffee, attend a teaching session or maybe just take a walk. This isn't a holiday based on spending lots of money or doing amazing activities, it is all about each of our relationship with God and with each other.
The format for the teaching has been a bit different this year and the majority has been all together within a large venue seating around 3000. I can't say this is my preferred style of worship and receiving teaching and in previous years I've been able to go to smaller break-out sessions which are much more my style. I can however, totally understand why they have chosen to have the adult teaching all together as the theme this year is unity within the church and us all being 'one for all' but as I said I don't find it the easiest way to digest information.
So from day two I headed to the only other venue with teaching at this time and it was on biblical
Parenting, run by the charity Care for theFamily. I love this charity and have always attended their sessions at all the Spring Harvests I've been to over the last decade as well as joining in with their parenting course recently and attending the 'Mums the Word' evening. But I had foolishly thought I had heard all they had to offer and how wrong was I? Or maybe it is just like the bible that at different stages in your life you get different messages from the same teaching.
I was challenged and excited by what I heard and in the two sessions I attended, I wrote more notes than in the others all combined. I think the biggest thing that will stay with me forever is Rob Parsons saying -
"Rules without relationship equals rebellion"
And this is so true, both as a parent but also in our own faith. We can't just attend Church and follow the rules, we have to know Jesus and to treat Him as our best friend otherwise our faith lacks authenticity and the strength to carry us through the tough times that life throws at us.
As I sat there I was so pleased to be able to think about all the ways my husband and I are building relationship with our kids and I felt comforted to know that we are building up the emotional bank that Stephen Covey describes in his books. Because I go out with JJ alone sometimes and we have coffee, laugh and chat when he is rude to me, like any 13 year old is, trying to push the boundaries, I can say to him, 'this isn't fair, I deserve better' and he knows I'm right.
When Miss M pushes me away because she is in a bad mood as I've enforced a boundary and told her she cannot yet do something as she is only 9 years old and not 19, often my response to her is that I love her and she shouldn't treat me like this, as I act in her best interests always. She knows this is true and she knows this as I choose to sit down and hug her whilst watching some rubbish kids TV or because we tidied her room together, chatting away as we did.
Every child is different and they all need to build relationship in a way that speaks to them but what relationship is always about is time. Not money, not gifts, not permission to do what they like but time spent together and it isn't always convenient, life isn't like that. Miss E especially has to pluck up the courage to talk about anything that is troubling her which normally means that at 9.15pm when she should be asleep I am sat on the edge of her bed listening to her worries and then praying them through with her so Jesus can take them away.
Today more than any other I feel privileged to have been gifted my three precious children. Each so very different but each with amazing gifts and so much love to give. They aren't perfect, they're not model Christian kids (if there is such a thing), they haven't all made a commitment to Christ, none have yet chosen to be baptised and yes they are all regular, naughty at times kids but Jesus sees their hearts and He knows the skills and treasures that await unlocking and I can't wait to see how Christ moves in their lives and spurs them into action.
For now I'll keep on enjoying them and building our relationships whilst they are happy to enjoy time with me. And all those things I don't really want to do, like going swimming at 9.30pm on holiday, I'll just push on with as I know that it won't always be like this. One day they'll want their friends or partner more then they want me. So despite it being inconvenient or not to my liking I need to take the opportunities for building relationship where I can.
How are you building relationship with your kids?
How are you building relationship with your kids?
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