CONNECTING WHEN YOU HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON
Posted by Sherry Surratt
I can still picture my daughter Brittainy as a bright, talented sixth grader. She could figure out technology with lightening speed, dribble a ball like it was attached to her hand with a string, and never so much as flinch when a soccer ball came straight at her head. With her dark hair, she took after her dad. They spent hours watching the Women’s USA Soccer team and figuring out a way to build a guitar pedal instead of handing over hard-earned cash for it. I would try to chime in, but their conversation sometimes left me in the dark. Staying up with the newest point guard for the Houston Rockets just wasn’t in my wheelhouse.
I would listen to my daughter with amazement. She was so smart, so talented, so beautiful. I couldn’t have been more proud, but I also felt pangs of frustration. It was hard to find things for her and I to do together that we both enjoyed. I could barely dribble a basketball without hurting myself and my 75-year-old grandmother could outrun me on the soccer field. I once almost singed my hair just standing beside her as she soldered wires together for a guitar pedal board. I liked shopping for shoes. She didn’t. I loved looking in junk jewelry stores. This bored Brittainy to tears.
But I was determined. I devised grand plans of hanging out twice a month, just she and I, mom and daughter nights that would give us time to connect and talk. They weren’t easy to schedule. Between soccer practice, church and school stuff, we had to get creative, but we finally landed on some dates. I planned our first night, a trip to the mall. We could walk around, eat some junk food, and hopefully talk about her friends and school.
I’m not sure where I got my expectations (probably a Hallmark commercial), but compared to the picture I had in my head, the night was a disaster. She didn’t want ice cream. She didn’t want to go into Claire’s and look at purses. I saw a glimmer in her eye when we looked at soccer shoes, but I didn’t know how to talk about the different brands. The night ended in an argument when she asked, “Can we just go home?”
What in the world? She was my only daughter for goodness sake. I couldn’t possibly love her more. So why were our times together so hard? Luckily, I had a mom friend who had walked this same road before me. As she talked, she shared some wisdom I’ve never forgotten.
This one should have been obvious to me but it wasn’t. I was trying to think of things we could do together, but sometimes the first move is just to ask. When I did, Brittainy said she’d like to shoot baskets in the driveway. Deep breath. I stink at anything with a ball, but the barely used sneakers went on anyway. And shoot we did. She sank almost every one of hers. Most times I didn’t even hit the backboard. We laughed (mostly at my horrible aim). She gave me pointers and showed extraordinary patience. Here’s what I learned about my daughter. She didn’t expect me to be good. She just wanted me to be in the circle of what she cared about.
SHOO AWAY THE EXPECTATIONS.
I’m a goal driven person, but I’ve learned that with my kids I can’t force the relationship with expectations that aren’t helpful. Planning fancy family nights or events with my kids where there’s a specific expected outcome is a recipe for disappointment. I’ve learned to let it be what it is. Sometimes we talked about deep things, other times I endured one-word answers and an I’m-so-over-you attitude. Geoff and I still remind each other that it’s about showing up and letting our kids know we love them the best we know how.
NEVER GIVE UP.
I think this is the biggie. Being available and willing to do whatever with my kids, in their time and on their terms, sends a powerful message: I’m not going away. Even when you grunt at me and roll your eyes. I still love you.
There will be moments when you are tempted to do nothing because it feels like there is nothing to do. Keep going. Keep showing up. Keep being there in the moments when they think they don’t want you there.
Today, Brittainy is a beautiful young woman who recently tackled taking a moped apart, cleaning the carburetor all by herself. I wouldn’t know a carburetor if it walked up and introduced itself to me. Brittainy and I may not have a lot of hobbies in common, but we both know this: A great mom and daughter relationship is worth fighting for.
What’s your favorite way to hang out with your kids? How can you do more of it this week?
About the Author:
Sherry Surratt is the Executive Director of Parent Strategy for Orange. She is the author of several books including Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears, and Just Lead! A No Whining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church. A shoe freak and coffee lover, Sherry resides in Denver, Co with her husband Geoff who is Pastor of Church Planting at Southeast Christian. She has two grown children and two incredibly gorgeous granddaughters.
PLAYING THE LONG GAME IN A WORLD ADDICTED TO INSTANT
Posted by Jon Acuff
Do you know why it’s hard to teach your kids perseverance?
Because the rest of the world is built around instantly fulfilling their every need.
Do you remember Blockbuster Video? You had absolutely no guarantee they would have the movie you wanted to rent. It was very likely that some other punk in your town beat you to the one copy of Back to the Future Part II.
Upon finding the empty case, you would curse your bad luck and then wait a few days until the video came back to the store. You had to persevere.
That might seem like an incredibly minor form of perseverance. It hardly fits the way we define the word here at Parent Cue. Were you really refusing to give up when life gets hard? Maybe not, but you did have to wait. You did have to try again. You did get reminded that the world is not structured around fulfilling your every need.
Fast forward to today and things are a lot different. If my phone takes longer than .05 seconds to look something up, I am frustrated. If the show my kids want to watch isn’t on Netflix, they feel a little impatient. If someone doesn’t respond to my text immediately, I am bothered.
We live in an on-demand world, but great things usually take great time.
It’s our job as parents to teach our kids that the things that really matter require perseverance.
You don’t get great relationships unless you work on them over time.
You don’t get great at a sport unless you practice even when you don’t feel like it.
You don’t get into a great college unless you start planning long before the application is due.
Despite what Siri might tell us, life is not instant and it is not always easy.
We’ve got to play for the long game.
When our kids want to quit on a school project, we have to remind them why sticking with it matters more.
When they want to give up on a friendship because their feelings got hurt, we have to remind them real relationships go through bumpy moments.
When they want to let go of a passion because practice isn’t fun, we have to show them the value of hard work.
As the rest of the world becomes impatient, a little bit of perseverance will pay dividends for years to come.
About the Author:
When he’s not charging his phone, New York Times Bestselling author, Jon Acuff, teaches a goal-setting course called “The 30 Days of Hustle.” To find out more, visit 30DaysofHustle.com.