When I first titled this article “When your attempt to connect with your child falls flat,” my husband joked, “That never happens!” We laughed, because to put it mildly, our attempts to bond with our children don’t always go as planned. Sometimes we go all out trying to do something special only to get a pouty or unimpressed response, or worse, an offensive attitude of entitlement, instead of gratitude. It can be incredibly frustrating, and can leave even the most enthusiastic parents feeling discouraged and a bit puzzled.
Consider our design. God could have created us as robots with automated positive responses to His affection. But He didn’t. He desires our love in response to His, because love with no choice is not love at all. Christ demonstrated this by freely giving up His life for us with no strings attached. And I know that. I can quote the scripture, and that’s exactly what I think I am doing when I pursue my kid’s heart unless it turns out less than I hoped. To my shock, the hidden agendas of my heart find their way to the surface and I’m reminded of how much I need God’s love to compel me as I pour into these kids.
I want to be loved. I want this relationship to be satisfying. I want them to listen to me. These feelings are not bad in and of themselves unless I allow them to be my driving motivation, in which case, I may unintentionally invite tension into our budding relationship.
One of the ways I check my own heart – and I certainly fail at this sometimes – is to ask myself, “If they totally reject my best efforts, what will my heart response be?” Because, truth be told, their resistance to our love or direction is one of our greatest opportunities to demonstrate what God’s love is like. By God’s grace, let’s pause, take a deep breath, and form a guilt-free response that respects their part while keeping the door open whenever they are ready. There’s something about that exchange that says, “Wow, my parents aren’t trying to control me. They actually really want to connect.”
In the next article, I’ll share some practical truths and tips to help you navigate effectively pursuing the heart of your child or teenager.
I’d love to hear from you! What are some roadblocks you’ve encountered as you’ve sought to connect with your kids?