Healthy Connections Day 1: Connecting with Family
I love everything about Christmas. Family time, movies, music, gifts, remembering the birth of Jesus, food, etc. I’m writing this in early October, and, yes, I’ve already listened to Christmas music this season! So it should come as no surprise that I hate the end of Christmas. I get bummed out when everything gets unplugged and put away. The beauty ends when the plug is pulled, the connection with electricity that sparks the dazzling displays of light is cut. This week, we’re going to be looking at connections in life. Connections are critically important. Going through life isolated and alone isn’t a good recipe for healthy living. Plugging into positive, healthy connections can have the same effect as that string of Christmas lights being plugged into a power source. It can brighten my life and enhance the lives of others around me.
The first connection is one we all have—family. For the most part, it’s one we can’t choose. You can choose friends, spouses, neighbors, and coworkers, but your family is your family. It’s a connection the Bible has a lot to say about, too! Look at the series of Scriptures below. We can’t help but understand the value God puts on having a healthy connection with our family!
“Honor your father and your mother.” (Exodus 20:12, ESV)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord… Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.” (Ephesians 6:1,4, ESV)
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.” (Psalm 127:3, ESV)
“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33, ESV)
In most cases, a person is born into a family and remains with them for many years. Typically, a child is born, developed, and raised for 18 years before becoming a legal adult. After that, they might attend college or go into the work force. Eventually, they will likely marry, have children, and continue the cycle. And all along the way, the family is present. It should be obvious how important those connections and relationships are in the development of our lives. While friends may come and go, family is constant (and expanding). Of course, some people say, “I’m stuck with them!” But especially within the confines of an immediate family (parents and children), the value of keeping healthy connections is immeasurable. It isn’t promised to be easy, which is why the Scriptures give us so much guidance. Obedience, patience, and love are words not typically associated with simplicity!
How, then, can we facilitate and encourage familial connection? I’m going to approach it from my current life situation—married with three daughters. I acknowledge how surface level this is going to be, of course, due to space constraints. The most important connection is that of the parents. The remaining connections within the home will often reflect that relationship. How well do we manifest the exhortations of Scripture (love and respect)? How well do we communicate? Do we support and stand up for each other? Do we spend time together? Our children will easily be able to tell how strong our bond and connection are. It’s natural for them to want their parents to be well connected.
And then comes the real challenge—connection between parents and their children. This goes through stages. When they’re younger, kids want to tell you everything. When they’re older, they don’t want to tell you anything! What’s a parent to do? Well, we must make the effort to stay connected, and not the other way around. It’s our responsibility first. Even if it isn’t something that really interests me, I should be involved in what interests them. Thirty years ago, I would have been bored watching volleyball, dance, and soccer. Today? It’s a different story. I watch my daughter play volleyball, and I love it. I’m a full-on dance dad (not a dancing dad, which would be a hideous mess). And a Saturday morning soccer match has become a common theme of many weekends. Why? Because these are things my girls love. It can be tough to connect in other ways as a “girl dad.” My now-driving teenager isn’t going to spill her guts about her friends, boys, and school (at least not to me). I stay as up to date as I can, but it’s tough. Connection takes work, and it takes readiness. When the time comes when they do want to talk, I need to be ready to listen, empathize, support, care, and love them. Maybe, just maybe, if I show them how much I value that connection with them, they’ll be more inclined to stay connected with me.
Family is such a vital connection, but here is a common theme for the week—it takes work. But it’s a work that’s well worth the payoff.