They grow up so fast, don’t they. When you have your first child, everyone reminds you that if you blink, they’ll be grown. You might smile, sheepishly agree, and then go about your day. But maybe we ARE actually missing their childhood and don’t even realize it.

Last week a friend of mine sent me this article, with a note attached saying it sounded like a topic I would write about. He was dead on. As I read through it, there were a number of points that stood out to me.

I’ve tried to be intentional with all of my kids over the years. I bring my kids to school in the morning, eat dinner with them each night around our dinner table, sing/pray/read the bible/tell stories with them most nights, yet something hit me recently about my interaction with them.

I tend to narrow the focus of my parenting to activities I do with my kids, or the correction I give them for doing what they aren’t supposed to do. So what am I missing, and why am I missing it?

My cell phone distracts me from the small moments that make up so much of their childhood.

The author of the article gives numerous examples of how “communication devices” cause parents to miss their child’s childhood. Take a look at a few of the points she made. See how many of these describe you:

*Keep your phone turned on at all times of the day. Allow the rings, beeps, and buzzes to interrupt your child midsentence; always let the caller take priority.

*Carry your phone around so much that when you happen to leave it in one room your child will come running with it proudly in hand—treating it more like a much needed breathing apparatus than a communication device.

*While you wait for the server to bring your food or the movie to start, get out your phone and stare at it despite the fact your child sits inches away longing for you talk to him.

*Don’t look up from your phone when your child speaks to you or just reply with an “uh huh” so she thinks you were listening.

*Use drive time to call other people regardless of the fact you could be talking to your kids about their day—or about their worries, their fears, or their dreams.

As parents, we can go through the motions without ever connecting to their hearts. We can drive them to school, but never fully “be” in the same car. We can talk to them, but not have a conversation. We can talk about facts, but never find the windows into their souls. Sadly, all the while we think we are doing a good job as parents, and that we aren’t being like the “others” that are missing their child’s childhood.

How can we connect with our kids?

Instead of living distracted lives, what if we did a few of these:

Give your kids a reason to laugh at you. We have dance party in our home a few times each week. But it’s not just playing music loudly and letting them dance. My wife and I get out there and do the same. They know I can get after it with the best of them.

Learn the names of your daughter’s dolls. One of my daughters has Ruthie and Annie. My other daughter has a doll, but hasn’t named it – to my knowledge (I might need to check on that one again.). I talk to my daughters about their dolls as if they are real babies. They are always surprised by that type of conversation.

Throw the ball or shoot baskets with your kids. Basketball in the driveway or throwing the baseballs in the backyard provide great opportunities for connection, and safe places for conversation.

Create routines they can bank on. I’ve told my 7 year old stories almost every night for the past 4-5 years. That is a lot of, “Once upon a time…” My kids know each night I will pray for them, sing over them, and tell them a story. Many nights we read out of the Children’s Storybook Bible as well. The other night I was really tired so I gave the, “It’s too late for Bible story tonight” speech. My oldest replied, “But don’t you want us to learn about Jesus?” Ouch. He got me.

Remind them you love them because of who they are. The older they get, the more they need to hear it. Press in. Let them grow up, but don’t buy the lie that they don’t need to know you are pleased with them.

Thank God for them at the end of each day. In doing this, you will be reminded that another day has passed. It helps maintain a sense of urgency.

So let me remind you again…

Your kids are growing up fast. Before you know it, they will be leaving for college. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss it.

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