When my kids were young, it was easy to speak truth into their lives where the opportunities were plenty. Whether it was the drive to school and back, or after sporting events, having them strapped in the back seat of our car was a great opportunity to share Jesus and God’s wisdom. The Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
My amazing wife, Misty, did a much better job than me in capitalizing on those opportunities to establish a level of trust, where our kids could open up to us without feeling corrected or even judged. However, I was sometimes more interested in talking about how the soccer match went and ways my daughter could score a hat trick the next game.
The reason I used the words “gaining trust” in the title of this post, isn’t necessarily because you did something to lose it. (Even if you were the competitive, driven dad. We all make mistakes as parents. My kids will gladly furnish you a list of mine.) But because anybody who has had high school kids, knows that there is a bit of natural distancing as they grow closer to adulthood.
They need to establish their own identity, want to make their own decisions, and be responsible for their own walk with Jesus. Add the element of moving away to college, then it takes not only a level of trust, but also an effort for your kids to reach out and open up so you can minister to them.
You will always be the parent, but during the college years, you will find being a minister to them will make for a far smoother relationship. So here are three ways to establish or reestablish the level of trust with your kids during the college years:
1. Ask to pray with them on a regular basis
Before their drive or flight back to school, during finals, or anytime you sense they just need your support but aren’t verbalizing it. I like to put my hand on their shoulder and just pray. I think it’s powerful when they feel your touch on their shoulder and you are petitioning God on their behalf. We know God is good and will answer prayers, and it shows you care about the things they care about.
2. Ask how you can pray for them
At first, don’t be surprised if they say “nothing” or say something generic like “school”. Over time, as they see your consistent love and interest in their well-being, without an agenda, they will begin to open up. And even more so, when they see God’s goodness through the answered prayers.
3. Regularly remind them by sharing Scripture that God’s got them
There isn’t anything I can say better to comfort and strengthen them, than what God says through Scripture. A great way to do this is share a text from your quiet time or even forward a link from the weekend message.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard a great message on Daily Hope, “Why You Don’t Need to Fear the Future.” I shared it in our family chat. And Misty shared this Scripture a couple of days ago from Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you; The mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love. He will sing and be joyful about you.”
Let prayer and Scripture lead the way in establishing a trust with your college kids and surely God’s goodness will prevail!