Seven Steps to Grow Relationships

Sitting in a quiet house, I stare out the back window. Fall creeped in with its damp mornings and brilliant leaves, I sigh as the silence seems to press into me. What do we do when our hearts yearn for connection?

Thinking of my own daughter, I am confident in her love for me. My independent, passionate girl blazed a trail into adulthood chasing her dreams and not looking back. Her busy life and geographic distance make it feel like she doesn’t have time for me.

Can you relate? Do you struggle with maintaining that intergenerational bridge while still respecting her independence and personal boundaries? How do we live Ephesians 6:4 (NLT) “Fathers, [Parents] do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”?

I’m still working on this, but here are a few ideas that I think will help.

  1. Pray for your child before you pray for your relationship with your child. This moves our focus from our need to their need.
  2. Send a text that simply says, “How are you doing?” If they ignore it, don’t take it personally even if they are choosing to ignore you. Oh my, I did just write that, if our love is truly unconditional, we can let them fly while we wait. One sided love is painful but sometimes necessary depending on the season they are in.
  3. Forgive and ask for forgiveness when your misstep upsets them. This goes a long way towards building adult, trustworthy relationships.
  4. Respect their boundaries. The title of mother does not give you a free pass into their life. They are forging their own lives now and this independence is the goal of our parenting.
  5. Initiate time together with a text that says, “I’d love to catch up. When would be a good time to talk?” Be patient with them, making sure they know this is a request not a demand.
  6. Send them encouragement that relates to their life now. Let them know you see them as they are now.
  7. Cherish the times you do have together. My sweet Grandma would spend a large part of my visit telling me that I don’t visit enough. I loved her so much, but it felt like I could never give her enough attention. It saddens me now, because I didn’t have the words then to express that her words defeated any effort to see her. This pressure had the opposite effect of what my dear Grandma wanted.

It’s not always easy, I know. Building relationships takes determination and a balanced plan. Whether you are seeking time with your own child or developing a mentor relationship we need to choose to initiate with patience and unconditional love.  Waiting for them, thinking they are not interested in you, has the opposite effect. They interpret it as if you don’t see them, and you don’t have time for them.

So now, with time, I can rediscover recreation with other people. I like people so I want to share my time with them. After all, this life is all about relationships. Settle down my introverted friends, you too need friends. Whether we are together in a large group or sharing time one on one, I believe the key to finding fun is building relationships. My goal is to seek inter-generational friends; some older, younger, and just about the same age.

I love meeting with younger people and helping them navigate life. The relationships I’ve developed have grown our family. Our house may be emptier, but our life is full. When asked, “What do you think when you hear the phrase ‘empty nest’?” My friend Deb Potts replied “Empty nest to me sounds like opportunity to fill it up again. This time with spiritual children”

Scripture encourages us to use that freedom given us to serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13) This vigor birthed by walking in the Spirit will spur us on to live a full life in Him.

If you want to learn more about this topic, please join me for an upcoming webinar. Let me know if you liked to know more and I’ll be sure to keep you informed.

What do you think? Do you have ways that you encourage relationships with your adult children? I’d love to hear it.

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  1. This is so good Leslie. I work to give my adult kids space but I must admit sometimes I feel that other moms I know are so much more invested in their kids. Like they talk every day, or maybe more than once a day. I struggle to find the right balance. Looking forward to your webinar.

  2. Well done Leslie! It is hard to find a balance . My kids are busy and I remember being very busy too when I was raising my kids, so I do understand. However, I would like to see them more. I like the idea of keeping them prayer and praying for specifically for them. ❤️

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