CONNECT WITH KIDS?
Connect with kids? I know sometimes it seems impossible. After all, connecting with children or teens who don’t live in your home can be difficult. They are so busy with activities, sports, clubs, and music. Of course, screen time is competition for sure.
However, whether they live down the block or thousands of miles away, you can find ways to “connect with kids” by building a relationship that can last throughout both your lives.
Blessed with three grandchildren, one 90 miles away, and the other two over 1,600 miles south, I find meaningful connections a struggle. Talking on the phone is easier said than done. One-word answers and long silences occur because my grandkids don’t know what to say. So I came up with some ideas to draw us closer and get to know one another better.
CONNECT WITH KIDS 1: FACETIME – I PROMISE THE OTHER SIX ARE MORE ORIGINAL!
FaceTime and Skype are magnificent inventions. You can connect with children living anywhere in the world and be able to experience their emotions and expressions.
I think about biblical times when children married people who lived far away. For example, Rebekah moving to Canaan to marry Issac, a man she never met! Most likely, she never saw her family again. Can you imagine?
Of course, connecting through FaceTime with younger children requires the cooperation of a parent. Our daughter, who lives over a thousand miles away in Texas, is generously sharing Grace and Jude with us on FaceTime. We talk at least once a week. When we went for our first visit to Texas, Grace recognized us from our phone chats!
FaceTime may not be original, but it’s valuable!
CONNECT WITH KIDS 2: QUOTES FROM MR. ROGERS
Connect with kids through quotes from Mr. Rogers. Read these quotes together and discuss what they mean and how following Mr. Rogers’ advice can not only change the child’s life but another person’s life too.
CONNECT WITH KIDS 3: DO DEVOTIONS TOGETHER – EVEN LONG DISTANCE!
This one is my favorite. Quality time together and an opportunity to share your faith is a win-win.
After teaching junior high Sunday school, I discovered that students knew the stories of Noah’s Ark, Moses and the burning bush, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Joseph’s coat of many colors. Accordingly, embedded in their minds are the Christmas story, the crucifixion, some miracles, and Paul’s blind encounter on the road to Damascus.
However, kids’ lack of knowledge regarding the foundation of Christianity, including the patriarchs, prophets, and the start of the Christian church is staggering. They’re aware there’s an afterlife, but know nothing of the spiritual battle that takes place before spending eternity with Jesus.
Let’s face it, we are partly responsible. We need to share our Christian heritage and faith with our families. Doing devotions together is a start.
Buy two age-appropriate devotional books and give (or mail) one to the child. If possible, have a scheduled time to read the devotions together in person, by phone, or preferably FaceTime or Skype.
To facilitate discussion, read the devotional before the call and write some questions down to engage the child. Usually, devotionals allow a segue to other topics; thus, I expand on some of the biblical stories that many children don’t know today.
CONNECT WITH KIDS 4: CREATE A BOOK
When my mother died, it was heartbreaking for all of us. She was the cornerstone of the family, and everyone misses her terribly. My grandson, Isaac, was nine when she died, and he had a particularly close relationship with my mom. He didn’t call her great-grandma, he called her Eadie. When he was a toddler, he called her My Eadie.
His heart broke when she died, making the loss all that more poignant for the rest of the family. After her death, Isaac talked about wanting to keep Eadie’s recipes in the family. So Isaac and I are working on a cookbook together.
When he comes to visit for a weekend, we pull a couple of recipes for the book. There are many ways to put the book together. Isaac and I chose to buy a binder and poster board. We type two recipes on each 8 x 10 sheet and add some graphics. It is fun to select pictures to put on each recipe.
After we print it out, we attach the paper to the poster board, three-hole punch, and add to the binder. It’s a project to do together that also makes memories. Additionally, the recipes keep the memory of “his Eadie” alive – even into adulthood.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a cookbook. Listen to what the child in your life says to garner ideas for fun projects. Find something that the two of you have in common, or a subject that interests both of you, and create a book. Some other suggestions include the family genealogy, a record of family Christmas traditions, places you want to travel, etc. The ideas are endless.
CONNECT WITH KIDS 5: PLAY A GAME LONG DISTANCE
Adults have played chess long distance for years – long before electronic games. So, why not start a game of checkers, Battleship, or Scrabble?
Share moves over the phone once a day, weekly, or whatever you decide. It only takes a few minutes, but its fun to do together. There are apps and online games too; but the kids spend so much time on electronics, it might be refreshing to play games the old-fashioned way.
CONNECT WITH KIDS 6: READ THE SAME BOOK
Buy two books – one for you and one for the child. Decide on a reading schedule of short time frames. Kids are busy and get bored quickly. Respect their plans and only ask for short visits.
After each chapter of the book, talk about what you read. Have some questions ready to facilitate the discussion. For a younger child, you might want to read a book together when you do FaceTime. Again, just a couple of paragraphs at a time.
CONNECT WITH KIDS # 7: PRAY WITH THEM AND FOR THEM
Prayer is powerful and can change the course of a child’s life.
- Make sure the child knows you are praying for them
- Pray for the child’s future spouse – start this early
- Pray for the child’s salvation and faithfulness all the days of his life
- Pray for the child’s choices and decisions throughout his/her life.
- Ask the child about his/her struggles and immediately pray with them.
Children don’t share as well as we like; however, I find if I express a battle of my own – even one from my childhood years – children realize that all of us deal with troubles; therefore, they are prone to disclose their concerns.
For ideas on unconventional ways to pray, check out my new ebook: Twenty Ways to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life. It’s free!
CONCLUSION AND COMMENTS
Hope these seven ideas help you connect with the kids in your life. Perhaps you have some ideas. Don’t keep them a secret, share in the comment section.
Oh, and mothers who have still have their children at home; please realize how important “connect with kids” is to others in your children’s lives. Help them stay in touch with those who love them. It is beneficial to both parties.
Blessings until next time.