So I'm a big fan of dating.
This bit of information might surprise you. Maybe I don't seem like the dating-type? But over the years, I've become increasingly convinced that dating is the way to go.
Please hang in there with me while I explain.
The dating I'm talking about is setting aside a special time with each one of your children. We call it a "date" around here. And each child - whatever their age - looks forward to this time together with great anticipation. It's a really Big Deal.
I'm sharing this with you because if I had any "secrets" as to how I keep close to my children's hearts? This would be one of them. There are so many strong reasons for having a special time with your child that I'm convinced we should make it a high priority in our parenting.
10 Reasons to Make Time Your Top Priority
1. You're pursuing a relationship with them. Who doesn't want to be wanted? Children are no different. It's easy to fall into the habit of providing things for our children - toys, experiences, activities - and forget that what they really want is to be close to us.
2. You're communicating that they are important. That you so value their company that you're willing to take the time and trouble to be with just them. This fact alone has a powerful influence on their lives.
3. You are making it special. Isn't it good to break out of the routine now and then? To step away from chores, school, and schedules and do something different. It's wonderfully refreshing to both parent and child.
4. You're meeting a need. That he or she might not be able to express. You're filling a hole in their hearts that they might be tempted to fill elsewhere. In ways that are unhelpful or unholy. You're helping them to feel loved in a tangible way.
5. You can keep it simple. This is the beauty of it - it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. We have a wide variety of date choices: a trip to the library, slipping away to a cafe, or even retreating to a quiet room for a cup of tea and sharing a chocolate bar. I'm always amazed at how little takes to delight their hearts.
6. You get to hear what goes on in their heads. I love to listen to what they think about and the way they think. Their thoughts might be deep, interesting, or simply amusing. And if they've gone off-track somewhere? Here's your chance to correct wrong-thinking.
7. You can connect with their hearts. I not only care about what they're thinking, I care about what they're feeling too. What are they excited about? What are they worried about? Often they have things going on in their hearts of which I had been completely oblivious.
8. You have the opportunity to talk about difficult things. Sometimes - only sometimes - I'll use this time to say hard things to my children. Maybe an area that they need to work on, a new concept they need to consider or touch on a tender topic.
9. You can have fun together. A couple of days ago our youngest curled up with me on top of our bed, and we shared a box of Good-N-Plenty. It was sneaky-business, but we tried our best to be discreet. I'm not sure who laughed the most - him or me? - but we sure had a terrific time.
10. You're making wonderful memories. That they'll take with them forever. These are special bonding times that can carry you both through the more challenging days. And these are the stories that they'll share with their own children, and even grandchildren, some day.
I'd be hard-pressed to say what my favorite part about parenting would be, but I can tell you that these special times with my children rank fairly close to the top. I return from our time together feeling inspired and renewed. At other times challenged and convicted. I'd say our dates together fill my tank up almost as much it does theirs.
So now you can see why I'm such a big fan of dating. I love all that it means to them - and to me.
Time. It's top priority.
Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women.com