Science backs up we have always known about human relationships: Attachment is the key to connection. Connection increases the likelihood of cooperation from family members. It doesn’t guarantee it. Nothing guarantees it. Not even threats or punishments.
People who have a heart to heart connection want to please one another. They think about others first and can literally feel pain if they hurt or disappoint others. This does not happen when there is no connection or it is weakened.
Somehow parents got the idea that compliance was the goal of parenting. We want obedience because we want to protect our children and teach them about life. This has moved from center to focus on children doing what we tell them to do because we said so! Discipline has become punishment and parents idea of self-worth has been tethered to children’s behavior. It is time to re-focus on connection and not compliance.
Caution: Don’t read this next section if you don’t like God!
The simplest way to a child’s heart is to pray with them. That’s right if you pray for your child both you and your child have to open that rusty door of your heart and a connection can be made.
Rene Brown, in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” explains this well: “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.”
When I interview Christian parents about how often they pray for a family, the answer is rarely or never. Why, when this is a basic tool of the Christian home? I believe it is fear and mistrust that builds up over time and the lie of compliance as the goal of parenting takes over the home.
Try asking your child what he or she wants prayer for before they go off to school. In order for them to tell you, they have to risk opening up their heart to do so. If you honor that gift of insight and pray for them, you can follow up at the end of the day on how things turned out. This can lead to more prayer together and more intimacy in the relationship. Connection struggles solved!
If your child doesn’t trust you to tell you what they want prayer for, tell them you will pray for them anyway and speak into them what you already know about their challenges with friends and math assignments and sibling conflicts. Don’t use this to control. Genuinely express your desire for their success and wellness. You will be rewarded with a stronger attachment and greater cooperation.