Finding Holiday Quality-Time Connections
5 simple ideas to make “connections” with your kids during this upcoming holiday
As a social researcher I read a ton of studies about parenting, and I actually find it laughable how much experts disagree on so many parenting practices… except one:
Researchers all agree about that one practice. The one common denominator I find in every single piece of parenting advice, no matter how far to the left or right, everyone seems to agree that moms and dads need to seek out opportunities to connect with their kids and engage them in conversations about stuff that matters. As believers we find it even more important to engage our kids in dialogue about truth, especially in a world so potent with lies.
Holidays give us opportunities to do this… on steroids!
Think about it. Most holidays include several elements: school’s out (for our kids), time off work (for parents), a break from sports and the weekly hectic schedule, a gathering of families around a table, and a focus on the important things of life (Christ’s birth, His resurrection, patriotism, thankfulness… leprechauns). It’s like a perfect storm provoking conversations! It’s sad that some families miss opportunities like this to connect with their kids and talk about stuff that matters.
Here are 5 ideas to capitalize on this perfect storm of ripe quality-time moments during the upcoming holiday:
- Initiate connection moments
When I went on campus after Christmas break, I asked young people what they did on their Christmas vacations. The overwhelming majority of the answers I received were them by themselves with a screen.
“I played a lot of Apex Legends.”
“Nothing. Just watched Netflix.”
So I began to ask, “Did you hang out with your family much?” Again, most of the kids cited a meal or gathering around the tree to open presents… and that was it! The rest of the time was staring at a screen.
So let me ask you? What did you do over Christmas break? Specifically, how often did you get a chance to connect with your kids?
If you can only name a few meals and gatherings, maybe you should consider becoming proactive about initiating “connection” moments.
Think of settings where your family actually puts down their screens and talk: meals, opening presents around the tree, family hikes, trips to special places, fun activities, sitting in a hot tub…
- Join them in what they’re doing
If your son won’t pry their grubby mitts form his game controller because he’s addicted to Fortnite, consider asking him, “Can I play?”
Sure, this kid might need some helpful screen time boundaries, but since it’s a holiday, sit down and play with him. Ask him about his game system, which is his favorite and what he likes about each. Kids like being in the know. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with my son were while playing video games. There was something about me taking the time to enter his world and play with him, because every time I did that he opened up and talked my ears off.
In the same way if your daughter is sitting in her room on her bed staring at her little 3-inch screen she keeps in her pocket, laughing at her favorite Netflix show, ask her, “Can I watch it with you?” Don’t even move to the big TV. Sit down next to her on her bed and just watch it with her. Chances are she’ll begin telling you about the show or maybe even about her life.
Be ready with some fun questions about what they’re doing.
“If you were confined to a desert island and could only bring one video game/see one Netflix show, which would you bring?”
“What do you like about it so much?”
When you enter their world they are much more likely to enter yours.
- Plan a fun meal
What are your kids’ favorite meals? Where are their favorite places to eat?
Fill your holiday time with fun meals because meals are typically a place where people put screens down and actually talk with each other. Don’t hesitate to implement a “no tech at the table” policy… yes… even Dad and Mom. You’ll find that the simple elimination of screens alone can open up the doors of dialogue.
If you are having trouble getting conversation started, then try to…
- Ask “around the circle” questions
You’ve probably done this at one time or another. Someone asks, “Share your high and your low for the week.” Or at Thanksgiving, “Everyone share what you are most thankful for this year.”
These are probably some of my favorite holiday moments, when Grampa, Mom and little Jake each get the undivided attention of the whole family as they share something important in their life.
Ask creative questions:
“If you could go on a paid vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you bring?”
“If the power went out for a day and you were stuck in this house, what would you want to do if you could choose what everyone would do?”
The possibilities are limitless. And the answers to these questions give you a pretty good glimpse into their world, what they enjoy, and who is special to them.
And sometime during these conversations…
- Don’t be scared to bring up what God has done
Find a way to bring up God’s story.
Many holidays have natural segues to scripture. During Easter you can read the story of the resurrection; during Christmas you can read the story of His birth. And who says on Arbor Day you can’t read Psalm 1 (it’s about a tree that lives because it’s next to a river).
In a world so potent with distractions, don’t be afraid to dialogue about truth. How will our kids know what God has done for us if we don’t tell them… repeatedly.
And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (Deuteronomy 6:6,7, NLT)
Ask your kids, “Share one thing God has taught you this year?”
Open the Bible and read a story about Jesus.
Just don’t settle for separation this Holiday. Seek out connections with your kids and open up the doors of dialogue in your home.
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.