I’m getting ready for week two of our Overloaded series, so I’m really digging into a lot of articles and reports about relationships. I believe that the biggest victim in our overloaded lives is our relationships.
Why? Because for relationships to flourish, they need lots and lots of time. Relationship development cannot fit into a nice, neat timeframe. Relationships are fluid: sometimes they need more time and sometimes they need less time.
Dr. Tim Elmore has a great blog post called A Missing Ingredient As We Teach And Parent Our Kids. His thesis is that we have to teach our kids how to think for themselves. But to get to that place, we need to come alongside them to help learn to do this. He suggests —
- Process everything that happens. When you see a movie, hear a news report, or listen to a song, talk it over. Debrief its meaning, and the worldview of the people involved.
- Plan meaningful experiences together. Don’t simply go to ballgames (though I love ballgames) but feed the homeless in a soup kitchen or travel to another country and absorb it together.
- Ask lots of questions. When your child tells you what they did, enjoy the story, but eventually (without sounding like a professor) ask them their opinion about what happened.
- Share principles you’ve picked up in your past. At the right time, in those teachable moments, pass along a nugget, a quip or a little phrase you’ve used to keep you on track. You’ll be surprise how they remember it.
What do all of these have in common? They all require parents to have enough time in their schedule.
Can I make one suggestion on where to start? Dinner time.
- Get your whole family around the dinner table as many times a week as possible.
- Banish all technology during dinner (turn off the TV, leave the cell phones & iPods in the other room).
- Ask open-ended questions like, “Tell me something good that happened today” or “What’s the most played song on your iPod? Why do you like it so much?”
- Make sure that only one person at a time is talking. And then make sure you are really listening to what’s being said.
For your close relationships to thrive, love is best spelled T-I-M-E. Make sure you have plenty of it!