In the book, Playing For Keeps, Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy have identified six things that every kid needs over time (Time, Love, Words, Stories, Tribes, Fun). My focus this week is on the topic of Tribes.
When anyone walks into a room (classroom, cafeteria, conference room) with strangers, there’s that immediate question, “Do I fit in or don’t I?” When you look at a group of people gathered in any location, from the outside looking in, there is no better feeling than to know that you belong. We all need to have a sense of belonging somewhere. Everyone needs to be connected to meaningful relationships with people who care. Ideally that would be with your friends, family or tribe.
A tribe is simply a group of people connected by something in common (musician, student, farmer, mom, Vikings fan). Reggie Joiner says, “It’s as if God designed us so we would naturally connect in Tribes. Then he used Tribes over time to reveal Himself to us, and to continue to spread His message of love.” Two primary tribes that all kids need to be connected to are their family and the church. Would your child say that home is one place where he feels a sense of connection and belonging? The Covenant is one of those primary tribes where your child will experience love and acceptance. At The Covenant there are many adults committed through Child Life and Student Life ministries to genuinely care for your child.
When children experience genuine care from their parents and the church, over time they feel welcome, forgiven and a sense of belonging. Kids need to know when they are broken, lonely and wounded that there are places like home and church where they can go and know that they belong. They need to know when they look in from the outside that they will be loved not just tolerated.
How do parents build a relationship with their child? How do parents create an atmosphere of forgiveness and joy in their home? Listed below are some practical ideas:
Playing – Take interest in your child’s world. If your child is elementary age, play with him/her in the sandbox. If your child is older, surprise him/her when they come home from school with an invitation to have supper out. Make sure you don’t have a hidden agenda! Have fun with your child in his or her areas of interest. Do whatever it takes to send the message that your child is a priority.
Connecting – Meal time can be a great time to connect as a family. Time around the table needs to be relaxing! This is a time for light hearted conversation, storytelling and laughter. Schedule another time and place for major decision making or conflict resolution. Coming to the table should be a time to look forward to.
Listening – Listening well to a child conveys this message, “What you have to say matters to me.” Then the child starts to believe, “not only what I have to say matters, I matter.” Listening rather than reacting creates an atmosphere of safety so children share what’s on their hearts. Think before you speak! First reactions to a child’s comments, if not handled well can shut him/her down. Listen well and be slow to speak.
We all need to have a sense of belonging somewhere. Everyone needs to be connected to meaningful relationships with people who care. Surround your family with other adults (tribes) that will love on your kids too!