A healthy Christian home features an atmosphere of safety where children can share their pains, joys, fears, anxieties, and mistakes with their parents. In response, godly parents teach their children how to navigate and cope with life’s blessings and sorrows.
Unfortunately, attempts to create this atmosphere of safety can be easily derailed. This can happen when parents respond negatively to a child’s attempts to share hurts and failures. When parents react with harshness or anger, it teaches their children that it is not safe to share certain vulnerabilities. Family members also become disconnected when parents and children aren’t intentional about communicating or spending time together.
Provide a Safe Environment Where the Child Can Be Vulnerable
When this happens, parents often are confused as to why they seem to be drifting apart from their children. While there may be misperceptions on both sides, usually something has happened that has made the child believe it is not safe to be vulnerable with his parents. Perhaps the parents have provoked the child in some way, and, as a result, the child has become discouraged and is looking elsewhere for comfort. This disconnect is certainly not what any godly parent desires.
In many homes, the problem is exacerbated by technology and busy calendars.
As more activities fill up the calendar, the divide between family members grows wider.
With cell phones, both parents and children are constantly connected to peers, school, church, work, and a superhighway of endless (and mostly trivial) information. As more activities fill up the calendar, the divide between family members grows wider. In place of family communication and shared experiences, both parents and children spend hours doing anything and everything but learning how to communicate and be vulnerable with each other. Many parents do not know how to be vulnerable with their children, including admitting when they have wronged their children or made an unhealthy choice that has impacted the family in a negative way.
Creating a Close-Knit Family Takes Effort
If this describes your family, you can reverse course. Turn off electronic devices, clear the calendar, and invest in each other with the most expensive currency of all: your time. Have the difficult conversations most families avoid. Model healthy conflict resolution with your children. Teach them to be fully present for the joys of life, but also for life’s low points. Have fun together by making room on the calendar for old school family time, without the distractions of cell phones, social media, and the search for approval from people who are not presently involved in your life.
You will not regret the investment!With cell phones, both parents and children are constantly connected to peers, school, church, work, and a superhighway of endless (and mostly trivial) information. Click To Tweet
Falicia Miller is a licensed mental health counselor and the owner of Greater Purpose Counseling in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has worked with children and adolescents who have experienced complex trauma, including physical and sexual abuse, adoption, abandonment, and sex trafficking. Miller and her family attend Faith Apostolic Church in Carmel, Indiana. She is a member of the Center for Apostolic Counseling.
(A version of this article was published by Family Ministries Council.)