A few years ago–make that about eighteen–my husband and I took our son on a camping trip along with two other families. One of the families were our neighbors (also a young couple with one child at the time) and the other family was my sister Betty, her husband and their three teenagers.
About two days into the trip my neighbor commented on how surprised she was that these teenagers went camping with their parents as often as they did. Not only did they camp together as a family, but they seemed to enjoy each others company.
Fast forward eighteen years. Those teenagers are in their thirties now, one son has a child of his own, and they still go camping as a family a few times each year. What’s their secret? How is it that my sister’s grown children enjoy hanging out with their parents when so many other children don’t?
I got to thinking about this last night and my mind traveled back about eighteen years to a day when Betty and her husband sat in my living room offering us a valuable piece of advice. “If you want your children to hang out with you later,” she said, “then make an effort to hang out with them now.”
It sounds simple enough doesn’t it?
Having a twenty-year-old son of my own I can look back and see that this little piece of advice was of great value to us. All the years that I homeschooled him come back to me when he comes home for a visit. All of the times we sat and played Monopoly with him come back to us when he sits at our table playing board games on family night. All of the times I took him out for a hamburger come back to me now when he says, “Mom I have a day off work tomorrow, do you want to go for lunch?” And all of the times we held hands to pray before sharing a meal wash over me like blessing when I see him bow his head in a prayer of his own.
When I talk about spending time with your children I’m not specifically talking about the big things. Maturity holds an accumulation of the little things that form who we are.
Here are just a few little things that we can do WITH our kids:
- Go to church with your children
- Eat meals with them
- Take them grocery shopping
- Take them out for ice cream
- Enjoy walks together
- Visit other families
- Watch movies on a Saturday night
- Cook together
- Clean house together
- Plan your day together
- Read stories as a family
- Do homework together
- Visit people at the hospital with them
- Fold laundry together
- Ride bikes
- Do each others hair
- Laugh in the car with each other
- Sing in the car
- Weed the garden
- Bath the dog
- Paint a room
- Take photos
- Enjoy a bonfire
- Camp out in the back yard
- Play board games
- Go to the park
- Make a snowman
- Wash the car
- Laugh at funny videos
- Sew matching aprons
- Draw pictures
- Tell stories
Want your children to visit you twenty years from now? Spend time with them today.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
You are loved by an almighty God,
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