Our new Kidz Corner newsletter is going to have an article each issue giving adults ideas about ways to connect with children. One of the primary goals we should have for teaching children about God and the Bible is enabling them to be adults who love the Lord and live a life serving Him. When that’s the goal, the work can’t be left primarily in the hands of church workers and volunteers who only see the children for a short time each week. It’s a job that needs to be done daily by adults who love those children and want to see them thrive. The aim of this column is to give adults ideas about ways to connect with the children they love, whether those children are their own children, their grandchildren, or even the children next door.
Have you ever tried to talk to a child and connect with him, but it seems like you’re speaking a different language? It’s probably because you are! To easily have a deep conversation with a person requires not only a common language but also some sort of a common culture that binds us together. This was easier in previous generations. People read the same books, watched the same TV shows and movies, and sang the same songs. Now we have so many choices, and it’s pulling us all in many different directions.
The good news is that you can intentionally build a culture to share with the children you care about. You can make a choice to read books together or watch movies together, giving you that bridge so that you can have something to talk about.
This is, of course, easier if you live close to the child you’re trying to build a relationship with. If it’s your own child who lives with you, or a grandchild who lives locally, you can make a point to have time each day or each week where you read to the child, have a family movie night, or go to a museum or on a hike together. Make that a priority! Set aside time on your schedule and intentionally spend time together doing the same thing. You’ll soon see the value of being able to start conversations with, “Remember that time….”
But don’t despair if there are a thousand miles between you and the child! The same technology that pulls us apart can be used to bind us together. Who says you have to be sitting on the same couch for movie night? Pick an old favorite that you think your grandchildren would love and give them a copy. You watch it at your house, they can watch it at their house, and then you can talk about it the next time you call or video chat together.
And it doesn’t have to be limited to movies. You can read the same book and have a “book club” where you talk about what you’ve read each week. If the child is too young to read or claims he doesn’t like reading, use the audiobook. Mail picture books to young children and read to them over the phone, telling them when to turn the page. You can even go on similar outings and then compare notes. You all can go hiking where you live and then talk about what you saw. (Take it to the next level by learning how to identify things like birds or trees and then comparing notes about the types each of you sees in your own area.) You can both go to a museum in your area and then talk about what you learned.
When it is a child that isn’t your own, you’ll obviously need some amount of cooperation from the parents. Ask them first what they feel they have time for. They may like the idea of a weekly movie night, or they may spend a lot of time in the car together and think an audiobook sounds like a good idea. Also find out how it’s easiest for them access the media. Many families no longer have DVD players or CD players. If they have Netflix or Amazon Prime, you might be able to find movies that will be free for them to watch that way. They may prefer Audible for audiobooks.
I hope that your head now is swimming with ideas about books and movies that you loved when you were a child and the children you want to share them with. If you need some help getting started, look for our next issue in which I’ll offer some suggestions.