When Reed asked his young adult daughter, Hayley, if they could go through a discipleship program together, she said sure—if he would attend Krav Maga (self-defense methods developed by Israeli military) with her and take her out for ice cream once a week. Reed didn’t hesitate to say yes.
Any athlete would tell you that true teamwork requires knowing one another—strengths and weaknesses—and building camaraderie on and off the field. Here are a few ways to promote togetherness within your family:
Be present. The biggest key to being a team is spending time together. Make sure you clear your schedule enough to have meaningful time with your children and take an interest in what matters to them.
Initiate activities. When I was 14, my dad came to the dinner table, newspaper in hand. “The community college is holding auditions for ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Want to try out together?” We did, and that was the beginning of a father-daughter tradition that continued with my two younger sisters. Being in a production together provided lots of behind-the-scenes time (literally). More than a dozen musicals later, we girls continue to have close relationships with our dad.
Fill in. A dad in our small group is coaching both of his young sons’ basketball teams. “I never played basketball,” he laughs. “But there was no one else to coach the YMCA teams, so I jumped in.”
When I was in high school, my family moved to a small town. There were three teens in our family but no youth group at our tiny church, so my parents started one. Each Sunday night a dozen teens would gather in our living room for a Bible study led by my parents. By filling a need, my parents demonstrated that both my faith and my friends were important to them.
Live it. My greatest hope as a parent is that my children would come to know Christ and that we would share the camaraderie of faith in Him. The Theological Matters blog reported on a study showing that homes where faith is lived out are likely to produce young adults with firm beliefs.
“Parents who provide a home where faith is vibrantly practiced—even imperfectly—are remarkably likely to create young adults who remain serious Christians, even as they sometimes go through bumpy spots in the road,” the study said. “[N]ot surprisingly, homes modeling lukewarm faith do not create enduring faith in children.” This kind of spiritual home life doesn’t come from putting your child in every program at church. It comes from inviting them into your own faith and following Jesus together consistently.
Reed was onto something when he made a deal with his daughter. “It’s the best decision I ever made,” Reed says. “I paid the price getting ‘beat up’ at Krav Maga and fat on frozen custard, but it was worth it for the relationship with my daughter.”
Dr. Stanley shares his insights into building a strong relationship with his children in his book, “How to Keep Your Kids on Your Team,” available for purchase in our online store.