Many folks make resolutions at the beginning of a new calendar year. To that end, I heard on December 31 an unsurprising report indicating that the top three resolutions among American adults are to quit smoking, lose weight, and spend money more wisely. Of course, all of those and other resolutions might be worthwhile though they’re not easy to accomplish. As with any goal, they’re achievable with detailed, realistic action plans and a commitment to perseverance. And there’s nothing wrong with working on self-improvement.
But I wondered as I listened to the report how many people set relational resolutions: plans meant to build their connections with others. Most especially, how many of us as parents consciously seek to improve our relationships with our children? How many of us actually purpose and plan – now and at other times of the year – to actively celebrate the kids God has given us?
I know that’s not easy. There is much in our culture that works to alienate parents from their children and vice versa, causing adults and kids alike to drift toward relational distance more often than not. And because every person on the planet is sinful by nature, relationships are stressful – even with our kids. Even when we love them with all our hearts.
But we’re supposed to behave like the grown-ups we are. And we’ve been given the responsibility by God to nurture the children He’s entrusted to us. So it’s irresponsible to cop-out by saying, “I can’t love that child.” We must, instead, find a way to ask, “How can I love and celebrate that child?”
When Kathy gives a presentation on multiple intelligences, the genius qualities, or various parenting topics, she often hears regretful sighs and even witnesses repentant tears as people realize how they haven’t celebrated their children as they should. But she always says, “Don’t feel guilty. You were not responsible for this information before you walked into this room. But you are responsible for it now. So don’t waste energy on regret; instead, figure out how to be different when you walk out this door.”
And that’s the approach we need to take if we realize now at the beginning of 2014 that we have work to do in our relationships with our kids. And, in fact, every parent does need to improve in one way or another; that’s just the nature of being a mom or dad. So we’re not alone in the journey.
It’s not January 1 anymore, but that’s okay. Resolutions contingent upon special dates usually fail, as demonstrated by the fact that gym attendance peaks in early January but always returns to normal by mid-February. If you know there’s something to work on in terms of your relationship with your child, the important thing is not when you start the process. It’s that you start.
So what will it be for you this year – today?
Photo Credit: Alan