Date your child(ren)

In today's fast-paced world, there are countless distractions, spontaneous and scheduled activities, and, of course, technological devices that rob all of us from giving undivided attention. Many of these said distractions are experienced with or in the presence of our children leaving them with few meaningful moments with their parents. Its not uncommon now for many families to spend an entire series of hours in the same room but without any real communication or interaction. Young children today will, unfortunately, grow up remembering the face of their parent consumed with the face of a screen.

It's time to date your child(ren).

Think back to your dating/courtship years? You were like a little sponge and wanting to learn all you could about this incredible person. You asked questions, you listened to their responses, you surprised them with little trinkets or tokens of your affection and you couldn't wait to spend time with them. You would count down the minutes until their next phone call. You would do whatever you could to keep the peace and make that person happy. You put your best foot forward and really worked at keeping the relationship nourished and growing.

I once read that you should look at your child and picture them holding a sign that says I don't know that you love me and parent accordingly. How can you be deliberate about showing your child you love them through quality time?

discover your child's love language

If you have really young children, such as infants or toddlers, this one might be a little tough to decipher, but children preschool age and up should give you solid clues about how they love to be loved. For instance, my second oldest son loves to verbally encourage and he loves to help (as long as it's not being the dust pan holder guy for the "sweeper" person) so naturally, he loves to receive words of encouragement and help for those tasks that overwhelm him. Knowing your child's love language is so important in the quest to love your child more fully because when you speak it, its like magic, and you will appreciate the connection it brings. If you need help with finding your childs love language go here: www.5lovelanguages.com

say "I love you" [a lot]

This one is self-explanatory but cannot be overemphasized. Say it when you wake up in the morning, say it after any discipline/correction, say it 3,729 times a day and say it with or without hugs and kisses and tickles. No matter how or when you say it, say it with all your heart....not in passing....not out of habit, but mean it.

do something they enjoy

You may not particularly enjoy the activity, but the smile and joy you will encounter on your child's face will be completely worth it.

listen

Take a segment of time each day, put down the phone, and go to your child and just let them spill their guts about whatever they choose.  Try not to say much at all during this time, just enjoy wherever the child leads the conversation. Laugh, smile, ask them questions, discuss, enjoy.:)

schedule a one-on-one activity once or twice a month

Ask your child what he or she would like to do and put it on the calendar. In addition, if possible, take a child on an errand or two with you throughout the week. Rotate between children if you have more than one and get special time with each child while accomplishing important tasks.

My goal in dating my children is that they will make countless memories with me, that they will never doubt my love for them, and that during the troublesome growing up times they will come to me and trust me as their confidant, their "go-to". And my biggest hope is that my love will mimic the love that God has for us all. Gods ears are always listening, His arms are always open, His love is always pointing towards His children. God whispers "I love you" in His Word as we read His Story, He is never too busy for us, and absolutely nothing we throw at Him is too much. I never regret the time I spend with Him. I only regret the time I didn't or don't. I hope to say someday that I used the time I had with my children very wisely because they grow up too quickly to not make the most of every moment.

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-Alicia