If you have children in your home, you have a relationship. It may not be as strong or intimate as you like, but there is a relationship that God has provided between you and him/her. And as parents who have the solemn duty of bringing up our children in a way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), each of us are burdened by the need to speak life into the lives of our children not just as units of authority but as fathers and mothers who have a relationship with them.
Relationships are often built on trust, patience and consistency. Our “right to be heard” by our kids isn’t much different. Below is a list of 4 ways that you can build a relationship with your child.
First, pray that God will assist you in having a better understanding of your child (Psalm 139:14-16). The one who knows your child best is not you; God knew your child even when the child was in the womb. Ask God to teach you what He already knows about your child, so you can be more effective in parenting.
Second, commit yourself to address the heart of your child (Matthew 12:34). Our aim with our children is not behavioral modification; it is to pray that their hearts would be softened towards truth. The heart, which is properly informed by the mind, will produce righteous behavior. Look at the root of what is causing certain concerning behavioral patterns.
Third, commend your children when they are worthy of commendation (Romans 13:7). Rewards shouldn’t always be the motivation for spiritual growth, but God meant for us to be aware of them, because He speaks about rewards for being good and faithful servants (Matthew 25:23). Children need to understand sinful and foolish choices always bring harmful consequences, but righteous and obedient decisions bring honor and commendation. Next time you see your child make a wise choice, let them know God and you were pleased with that decision.
Fourth, seek forgiveness from your children when you sin against them (Matthew 6:14-15). We parents sin more often against our children than we want to admit. And sin always creates relational distance. But the blessing of forgiveness is that it often narrows that distance and reconciles people. Your children’s respect and admiration for you as a fallen but humble parent will teach them about the forgiving nature of God and show them how important your relationship with them truly is. Asking their forgiveness when you sin will show them you are real and that we all “live by the same Book.”