If you have more than one child, you may find that it is easier to connect with certain ones more than others. Maybe one has a similar sense of humor or sees the world a little more like you do making the relationship a little more natural. You may also have one that hates baseball, while you thoroughly enjoy it! You might be serious and your child a jokester. You may have a kid who loves video games while you detest video games. This may lead you to ask the question, “how do I connect with a child that is not that much like me?”
What everyone of our children needs especially ones difficult to connect with is TIME…. They need us to need to be with them. Don’t wait for your child to give you the invitation into their life. You pursue them. Learn their favorite colors, food, thoughts, dreams, desires and don’t worry about if they know yours or not. Genuinely try to learn what they love and join them there. About once a year I sit down with my children one by one and ask them who their best friend is, if their favorite color or food has changed. I ask them what they love to do by themselves or with others. Then I write those things down and try to figure out how I can meet them there. It might mean a date night, a jog, or playing a video game. I have to be committed to giving up some time in order to meet them right where they are. If you want to connect, especially with ones you don’t naturally have a lot in common with, the list of their likes and dislikes might be a helpful way to help you see what they see. Then, take some TIME and act on it. Forget about your agenda and joyfully enter in to their world of likes. Philippians 2:3 says, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Time requires sacrifice. Be ready to give it.
You may need to give up something that is keeping you from having some one on one time with them. I have children who will tell me everything that is on their mind no matter where we are or what’s going on. I also have children that I have to draw information out of. They aren’t the open book, but more subtle. The one that is difficult to connect with will require more patience, more time and more grace. You and I must let go of insignificant things that get in the way of connecting with him. If you have a needless hobby that you need to give up in order to have more time with him, then consider letting it go. Your days of parenting in the home are going to fly by. The fruits of your sacrifices will be evident. Dr. John Trainer once said, “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”1 Don’t forget that important truth!
Invite him to come enjoy the things that you love. Maybe you love to go to Cardinals baseball games but he doesn’t like baseball. Encourage him to go with you to the event and don’t worry about negativity. They are kids! A part of all of our growing in Christ is to do things that we don’t like to do. Sanctification is that tough process of us dying to our own selfish desires. I would also venture to say that if you have made a concerted effort to meet your child in the things that he loves, he will be more likely to enjoy your hobbies and desires. Don’t worry, you aren’t damaging your child by having them do something that they don’t want to do. Do your best to make it fun and love them no matter what the attitude. You want to be with them, so show it.
Don’t give up! Continue to show love, give time, let go of your desires and invite your child to be in your life. Jesus pursued even when we didn’t deserve it. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The God of the universe pursued reconciliation with us, His children! Pursue the child that is hard to connect with. Don’t give up, and remember that Christ didn’t give up on you. Appreciate him for the unique individual that God has made him and pursue activities and time together that you will look back on and cherish. Pray that God will give you the willingness and strength to pursue each one of your children in relationship.
All scriptures taken from the NASB bible
Dr. John Trainer