Habit #4: Tie Heart Strings With Your Children Each Day
“Our daily input into our three young adult daughters' lives is like a continual healing balm to them.”
We can get so caught up in work, teaching, outside demands, and physical needs (feeding and clothing) that we overlook one of the most important things that we should do each day--tie heart strings with our children. Most parents have their children's attention for eighteen years. Those are years that we can invest in them spiritually and build relationships with them.
It is so easy to get to the end of the day and discover that we have not squeezed our special squeeze, winked our special wink, or hugged our special hug. This is especially true as our children get older and no longer cuddle in our chair with us or have "rockies."
In addition to the physical closeness that our children need, they also need our verbal affirmation and communication. Ray's and my daily input into our three young adult daughters' lives (ages seventeen, twenty, and twenty-one at the time of this original article in 2008) is like a continual healing balm to them. Two of them are heavily involved in demanding ministries--to the disabled and to the Spanish community (no English spoken!). One of them is searching for her place and working hard to prepare for her future. They need to connect with us. They need for us to tell them that we are proud of them and that we support their endeavors. They need for us to hurt with them when they are hurting. They need for us to say, "So, tell me about your day," and "Give me details!"
Tying daily heart strings is more difficult than simply reading a morning devotional or being sure the laundry is done each day. It isn't usually in the schedule. It is needed at the most inopportune times. The more you give, the more they seem to need. But it is essential. Our children need to have their heart strings tied to ours so that when the storms of life roll, they will have a safe haven of love and understanding---"Jesus" with arms and words of encouragement on this earth.
If you find that each day ends with no heart strings tied, try this little tip: In the corner of each day on your planner, put a little square. At the end of each day, write the initials of the child that you connected with that day in that little square. Purpose not to end a day without being able to write one sweet child's initials in a daily square. Each week you can look back over your planner and see who missed out that week. (You know, the squeakiest wheel gets the grease!) Then next week, you will know who needs focused on more.
Or try this tip that I did for years and years when our older children were younger: have a "day" for each child. We milked this day for all it was worth. It was the child's day to help me with dinner (or fix it herself as she got older); it was the child's day to do extra chores; it was the child's day to help teach some of the preschooler’s school. But it was also his day to pick two books for story time, sit in the front seat of the van if we went somewhere, and sit closest to Mom during read alouds. Heart-wise (and often unbeknownst to the child), it was his day to get a longer blessing during blessing time, to have a longer time with Dad at bedtime, and to get extra attention from Mom throughout the day. This is especially helpful for families with several children. Each child needs a day! :)
If you only do two things off my “twelve habits,” do Bible/character with your kids and tie heart strings every day. You can always get more organized, exercise, and work on projects later—your kids will be grown someday and these two things are not going to be on your “to do” list for forever.