How to Create Vibrant Relationships While Parenting Young Children
Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Tracey Bianchi's book Mom Connection: Creating Vibrant Relationships in the Midst of Motherhood (Revell Books, 2012).
If you’re the parent of young children, you’re in a season of life that demands a lot of your time and energy. It’s easy to become isolated from others when you’re so busy caring for your children. But God wants you to connect with other people and enjoy vibrant relationships with them – even while you’re navigating the demands of parenting young children.
You don’t have to wait until your children grow older and less needy to invest in good relationships. Here’s how you can create dynamic relationships right now:
Find your rhythm. Everyone’s life functions in a particular rhythm: a certain pace that’s in tune with how they balance demands on them while living according to their values. Ask God to help you get in sync with your own soul, discover what matters most to you and why, and make decisions based on that.
Recognize that you’re not alone. Plenty of other parents face the same obstacles to developing vibrant relationships as you do: from fatigue and time pressures to barriers created by competition and labeling among parents. But you all can overcome those obstacles with God’s help. Realize that many of your fellow parents would like to build better relationships with others and will be encouraged to do so with you if you reach out to them.
Take advantage of the opportunities God brings you to connect with others as you go through your daily routine. It’s tempting to put off reaching out to others until you’ve completed your daily tasks, but doing so is unrealistic, since you probably won’t have much free time while parenting young children. So rather than waiting until you have any free time, make use of all the time you spend doing your daily work to socialize with others in the process. From talking on the phone while doing laundry to joining others to grocery shop together, be creative about using every opportunity within your daily routine to invest in relationships.
Keep developing and using the talents God gave you to improve the world. Don’t neglect putting your God-given talents into action to help make the world a better place, even during this busy season of your life. While you do need to focus a lot of time and energy on parenting demands right now, it’s not healthy to allow your children to consume so much of your time and energy that you don’t have any left over to keep learning, growing, and serving outside of your family responsibilities. Remember the work you used to enjoy before you became a parent: work that reflected what you can do best to help meet the world’s needs. Schedule time regularly to continue that work in some form (whether paid or volunteer), and protect it. Keep in mind that your children need to see you model passion and talent in action fulfilling God’s purposes – when they see you doing so, they’ll be inspired to keep learning and serving themselves as they grow up. So don’t let your world shrink down to just focusing on your children and nothing else. Ask God to help you be confident and bold about continuing to serve Him in every way He calls you to use your talents, both inside and outside your home. Know that whatever you can do in response to God’s callings will have a significant impact, even it seems small to you, because the world changes one small act of love at a time.
Create a family culture that reflects how you want your family to be known. Since the type of culture your family has influences the lives of all the people who know you, intentionally create a family culture that reflects the values for which you want your family to be known. Ask yourselves questions such as: “What are our gifts?”, “What makes us laugh?”, “In what ways can we all grow and be more fully the people we were created to be?”, “How can we better connect to each other and learn how to connect in a healthy way with others?”, and “How is each one of us distinctly suited to make the world a better place?” Then prayerfully set long-term goals for developing the kind of family culture you want to have.
Build healthy relationships with extended family members. Manage your relationships with in-laws, grandparents, cousins, and other extended family members so they’ll feel like blessings and not burdens. Set healthy boundaries to protect your immediate family’s routine and traditions while still keeping up with the lives of other family members when you can. Help your children learn about their family heritage by encouraging family members from both sides to share family stories and write them down or record them. Take lots of family photos and preserve them. Travel to sites that are important in your family’s history. Pray regularly for your extended family members and invite them to pray for your children.
Invest in your marriage. You and your spouse need to keep meeting each other’s desires for fun and togetherness even while handling the demands of parenting young children, or tension will result that will damage your marriage. Don’t neglect enjoying regular dates together. Make sure that you’re participating in a healthy church together. Communicate often about your schedules to stay in sync, and ask each other for help with the children, chores, or errands when you each need it so neither one of you becomes overwhelmed with stress.
Develop some close friendships. Make the time to build a few close friendships in which you all give each other grace and support, encourage, and pray for each other regularly. Keep in mind that many of the other parents of young children you meet may be lonely. Take the initiative to invite them to spend time with you.
Keep growing in your faith. Even during this busy parenting season, your top priority should be your relationship with God, rather than your children. Keep in mind that a strong relationship with God will empower you to be the best parent you could possibly be for your children. Participate actively in a healthy church. Devote time regularly to spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading and reflection.
Adapted from Mom Connection: Creating Vibrant Relationships in the Midst of Motherhood, copyright 2012 by Tracey Bianchi. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Tracey Bianchi is a hyper, over-caffeinated mother of three who is camped out in the Chicago suburbs with her husband Joel and, sometimes, a goldfish. She does freelance writing and speaking for a wide variety of nationally recognized organizations. She also serves as the Pastor for Women at Christ Church of Oak Brook. You can catch her musings and find out more about her other books and projects at www.traceybianchi.com.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles, at: http://angels.about.com/. Contact Whitney at: email@example.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: August 3, 2012