The Gift of Availability | Guest Post by Brenda Garrison

Coach and Young Soccer Player

Tomorrow on Living Inspired, I’ll be chatting with fellow author Brenda Garrison! Stay tuned to my blog and the Living Inspired page for a giveaway, and if you missed an episode of Living Inspired, check out the official show page!

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A year and a half ago I returned to college. I thought I would be invisible to the other students and that would have been OK. But I was the popular kid! One girl in particular chattered to me through much of class.

Later I asked Katie about my surprise popularity. She solved the mystery, “Mom, the kids like you because you listen to them. No one listens to them, but you do.” How sad. As parents, have we believed the lie that our kids don’t need us or care if we’re involved in their lives? Our teens not only need us more than ever, they want us in their lives. Our presence in their lives tells them they are a priority to us.

Being available for your kids is the most powerful thing you can do as a parent. Being available puts you in the posture to be the parent your child so desperately needs. Our kids will fill the parent void with something or someone less if we aren’t there for them. Our kids’ lives, futures, and God’s plan for them is at stake.

How can we be involved and relevant in our kids’ lives when they post a Keep Out sign? First, let’s define what being available is not.

It’s not:

  • Heading up anything kid-related.
  • Being a helicopter parent.
  • Doing for them what they can/should do for themselves.
  • Intervening with the school when they have consequences they’ve earned.
  • Dropping them at church or youth group and believing you’ve done your part to train and teach them.
  • Present but occupied on phone/computer.

What it is:

  • Be home. When your kids are home, be there. The most promiscuous hours of the day for teens are between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.—after school. Be the house where the kids gather.
  • Know where your kids are. If a parent isn’t home, they can’t go. One parent shared with me that his son must take a picture of himself and the hosting parents on his cell phone when he gets to their house. Then the teen must text the picture to his parents so they can see the other parents are home. Put away your technology and turn off the TV when they come in the room.
  • Listen much.
  • Talk little and when it counts.
  • Use technology appropriately. Text them encouragement, love, and fun stuff. Don’t overdo it.
  • Be present when their friends are there—bringing food into the room is a good cover.
  • Be their ride.
  • Be at their events. Sure, they might only slightly glance towards you, but your presence means the world to them. Katie has told me more than once how much it meant to her for Gene and me to be at her events even though she ignored us most of the time.
  • Speak their love language—small gifts, attend an event of their choosing, listen, affirm, praise, etc.
  • Put your social life on hold. Be home so your kids can have their friends there. Okay—have your friends there too.
  • Lots of grace, love, patience

If your child is struggling at any age or in any way—lean in. Clear your schedule. Be there. They need you. Often it’s their way of asking/demanding attention.

See life from your child’s perspective.

Our kids’ growing-up years are few when compared to the rest of our lives. We cannot go back. We must make the most of today and the time we have with them. Time spent with your child will never be a regret.

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Brenda Garrison is an enthusiastic and authentic speaker and author. She ministers to women in all stages of life but especially to moms—encouraging them by keeping it real and based on God’s Word. Brenda speaks at retreats, workshops, professional groups and government agencies that work with families. She is the author of three other books including Queen Mom: A Royal Plan for Restoring Order in Your Home and Princess Unaware: Finding the Fabulous in Every Day. Connect with Brenda on Facebook and Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Brenda, thank you for such a great article. I don’t yet have kids, but I definitely plan on being available to them when I do.

    Tricia, thanks for hosting Brenda today.

    Blessings,
    Andrea

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