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What is the Value of One on One Time?

Father and son

How can we be sure to give each of our children what they need? We can start by knowing them well, and there are few things better for that than one-on-one time together.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way…

Ephesians 4:15a

I’m the fourth of four kids. I jokingly say that my older three siblings were the “practice” children, and I got the benefit of parents who knew what they were doing. There’s truth in most jokes; this one is no exception. My well-practiced father once told me he and Mom treated us fairly, even though they treated us differently. They gave each of us what we needed, and that was different from kid to kid.

As parents we get to create environments and opportunities allowing our children to share their hearts with us.

These are a few easy ideas to employ as we seek to really know our children:

  1. Everyday Opportunities – Got a chore or an errand to run? Take along one child. Explain how to do what we’re doing. Let them participate in doing something to help the family. Leave phones behind. 
  2. Weekend Breakfast – Before everyone else is up, make breakfast with one child. Let them contribute ideas about the menu and table setting as well as help with the cooking. Or, hit a doughnut shop just the two of you. 
  3. The car is our friend! – Need to have a hard conversation, or a conversation about a difficult subject…especially with your teenager? Do it in the car! By design, you can’t have eye contact and drive. So, it takes a bit of pressure off for both of you to be able to confide in each other about potentially embarrassing topics. 
  4. Do “their thing”. – Does your son love basketball? Take him to a local high school game. Discuss the finer points of the game. Is your daughter really into musical theater? Listen to a soundtrack of a musical she likes while you’re in the car together.  Ask her about what she likes about the story and music. Take interest in their interests. 
  5. Ask Questions and Listen. – During your one-on-one time ask open-ended questions. Listen to their answers. It takes energy and effort to listen. Seek to understand, not “fix” or lecture. (So tough – I know!) 
  6. Discipline one-on-one. – Have harder conversations with each child by themselves – no peanut gallery around to throw in their opinion of the situation. Wait until tempers are cool and you’re not in the heat of the moment. Let them know you’re not returning to a hard conversation to beat them up about it again, but to do your job as their parent: discipline them. At the end of such conversations, be sure your child felt heard and understood, even if you don’t agree.

One-on-one time can create great memories.  It’s worth being intentional to carve out time…big and small…to be one-on-one with each of our kids.

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