One afternoon my six-year old came up to me and asked if I would play Candyland with him. If anyone is close to me, they know I am not a game player. Not board games, not card games, not video games...it just doesn't appeal to me. I did a selfish thing and said no. I wasn't doing anything in particular or even remotely important, I just didn't want to play a game.
Connecting with kids can be tough. Sometimes incredibly tough. But why?
In general, men are not connectors. When you look at women, they generally want to get together all of the time, talk about everything under the sun (good and bad), and get to know each other on a deeper level. Studies show that men are not on that same wavelength. Guys would rather work on a home improvement project or in the garage, sit in their man cave (alone), or just relax with a cold one. They typically don't open up, or share deep, emotional feelings, and tend to hold things in.
So how do we connect with our kids?
The key is to try. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous, and maybe even offensive, but trying is the key for men to connect.
If you want to lose weight, you have to take the first step. Maybe you get a gym membership, change your diet, lay off of the soda. The fact of the matter is you try. Trying over and over breeds discipline. Discipline brings about change. So try. Try connecting with your child in some way, shape, or form.
How do you do that?
Invest. Invest in learning and doing things that they want to do. I don't like Candyland. But after that story I told you about above, I realized I was being selfish. Do you know how many times I've played Candyland? More than I can count. Why? Because it's important to my son. Do I enjoy it? Not the game...especially when you land on one of those stupid candies that send you back to the beginning. But I absolutely LOVE seeing my son's face light up when I play with him.
Ask. Does your son or daughter love something that you know absolutely nothing about? Me too! Ask questions! When you ask about something your kids love, they will be elated that they get to share their passions with you. My other son loves birds. I know jack squat about birds except most of them can fly. But guess what? I bought him a bird book and we look through it from time to time and learn about certain birds. I ask him questions and he gets really excited to tell me what he knows.
Time. Maybe you don't have an issue connecting with your son or daughters hobbies. Maybe you have trouble connecting on a personal or emotional level. Spend time with them. Like, intentional time. If they can talk, regardless of their age, ask them about their dreams and aspirations. Encourage them. If your child is an infant, hold them. Don't just pray they fall asleep so you can put them in their crib and go turn on the game. As creepy as it sounds, stare at them. Pray for them. They are a beautiful creation that you have an opportunity to speak life into.
Connecting is hard. I still have trouble with it and we've had our children for about two and a half years. Some days are easier than others. But I have to try. I fail miserably at times, but we're all human. The true test is whether we get back up and try harder the next time.
Statistics are horrendous when it comes to kids without dads, or kids with dads who are not in touch with their kids. Crime, violence, dropping out of school, it's not good for either party.
Speak life into your children. Try extremely hard to connect. It's going to take time, but there is no time like the present to get started.