As a parent of two teens and a tween, Matt and I are working hard to be intentional in our parenting. One of our favorite podcast subscriptions is called Truth. Love. Parent. AM Brewster, the show host, calls it “intentional, premeditated parenting.”
Several years ago, Matt latched on to the idea of building bridges into our kids’ lives. We were challenged to find different ways to connect with our children according to their unique bents. As I write, Matt is at K-1 Speed with the kids, flying in high adventure racecars, creating fun for our thrill seekers. Some of our other bridges are playing cards together (Liverpool Rummy is our current favorite), ice cream dates, Starbucks, cooking, and working out together at the gym.
Our oldest daughter and I both share a love for books. We’ve read several books together, just a chapter a week. Truth be told, it has been a great excuse to connect over breakfast before school. These “Freshman Fridays” are a highlight of my time with our oldest as we talk through our book on envy and jealousy. We cross this bridge regularly. It’s one of our favorites because it is a well-worn path into each other’s heart.
Our other passion is working out. Thanks to the YMCA, youth can work out on the machines and attend classes. It’s amazing to have a workout partner that is my offspring. It’s motivating when she asks if we can PLEASE go to Body Shred. How can I say no? I forget that I get the greater benefit in working out beside her. Dad will join us some nights. It is a blast to compete and encourage one another.
One bridge we forge every summer is memorizing Scripture together. This past summer we chose James 1. We had already memorized James 3 a couple years ago. Since there are only 5 chapters in the book, we decided it a worthy goal to take a chapter each summer until we know the whole book. When they leave for college, they will have an amazing book of God’s Word in their hearts and minds. As our oldest just started high school this fall, we’ve had some amazing conversations around James 1:27 and “keeping oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Having fun together is an easy bridge to forge. We keep season passes to amusement/water parks for high commitment fun nights. We also have the kids spearhead Friday night family nights. We have them take ownership of coordinating dinner (out or in) and planning all the evening activities. We give them a budget to work with. They have come up with some creative ideas that have been a blast. It takes some of the pressure off us as parents and develops their leadership skills. It also reflects the unique personality and preferences of each kid. No one seems to mind that it may not be their favorite thing, knowing their turn is coming.
We also have simpler fun together. We decided to try all the Blue Bell flavors and pick our favorites. During my grocery shopping on Mondays, I come home with a new flavor. The kids can’t wait to get home and see what is in the freezer. It really is the little things that make life sweet.
One of our best practices is among the oldest tricks in the book…the family dinner table. I remember one of our pastors talking years ago about protecting the dinnertime from all the activities that try to take us away from being together. Although we are not hitting the five nights a week goal, we strive hard to eat together as much as possible. With three kids in sports, there is something most nights of the week. We’re transitioning to “most” of us being at the table some nights. But it is a sweet time that we thank the Lord for when we pray. We are blessed when the kids thank God for the time at the table. We often use Table Topics and other conversation starters to get to deeper levels of communication. The kids choose the questions or create their own.
To end each day well, Mom and Dad both individually tuck in each kid. We learned in a parenting class years ago that kids generally open up best right before bedtime. This is the place where parents are invited into their private world. As the kids have gotten older, the conversations have evolved from “What was the best part of your day?” to complex friendship scenarios involving countless twists and turns. We have the amazing privilege of helping our kids navigate how to resolve conflict biblically and coach them on speaking God’s truth lovingly and with respect. Far from perfect execution, we are learning how to move from a position of power to influence in our kids’ lives. What a gift!
Wife to Matt for 25 years and counting. Mother to Anna Kate (15), Lily (13) and Jep (11). I’m passionate about hospitality, reading, biblical counseling, and discipleship.