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Parenting Perspective: Mom, Will You Play Minecraft with Me?

How do you get your teenager to talk to you like that? It's a question I had for my friend when I saw how her oldest daughter came to her about a really sensitive topic. In between breaks in a conversation with her youngest about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, she told me, "If we listen to our younger children chatter about the little things now, they'll tell us the big things later. It may seem like little things to us now, but to them it was always big."

This conversation happened years before I was a mother, but I filed it away for later. I'm so glad I did. I've thought about it a lot as a mother of little ones. I've come to realize something, though. It's more than just listening to them talk. Something deep happens when we also spend time in their world, with the things that are important to them. I don't have teenagers quite yet (although one thinks she already is), but I'm investing heavily in these preteen years in preparation for what's to come.

"Mom, will you play Minecraft with me?" My 9-year-old son looks at me with hope in his eyes.

Do I want to play Minecraft? Absolutely not.

Will I play Minecraft? ABSOLUTELY.

We won't talk about anything important while we play. I'll be annoyed because I learned to play video games back in the 1980's and the y-axis has been flipped by these youngin's, so now I get confused by directions on the games. I wish I could easily retrain my brain, but I try to go left and it goes right. I try to shift the y-axis, but that frustrates him, so I stick with it the way it is. I hand him things and mine things for him. I try to stay out of the way of the bad guys. Whatever. We are hanging out, and my son is happy.

My prayer is that when he's older, not only will I be the one he wants to talk to about important things, but I'll be the one he wants to include in his life. He may not remember how I played Minecraft with him, but he'll know his mother is interested in his life and takes him seriously.

I'm already seeing the fruit of this labor with my 11-year-old daughter. She's asking me questions about sensitive topics, and she's telling me stories about her friends whose parents don't listen or who mock them for the changes happening to their bodies. (Dear God. Please don't do that.)

Social media tries to tell me I only have 18 years with my children and then it's all over. I don't look at it that way. I look at these years as "the investment years." These are the years I've been given to invest wisely, and the return on my investment could very well be a lifetime of friendship with my adult children. A lifetime of joy, savoring my grandchildren.

Some of my ability to invest well was taken from me when they were young. Health challenges and trauma made me unable to put in the time and attention I wanted. It's not too late, though. If you find yourself mourning as you read this because you didn't make that investment in the early years, do what you can now. Even though it may seem completely ridiculous to you, join them in their love of Taylor Swift or whatever they're into right now. Become an investigator and learn everything you can about the subject. Maybe even ask them to teach you? Don't try to get into deep conversations or critique the thing they love. Remember, all you're seeking is connection. Even if they roll their eyes at you and act suspicious, keep at it. Give them time.

Above all, PRAY. Ask God to show you opportunities to connect. I know you're too busy to spend time playing Minecraft, but ask God to show you where you CAN carve out time. What are you doing that doesn't need to be done? They aren't going to remember a perfectly clean house or a perfectly balanced meal every night at dinner. They might remember the mom who put cookies in the oven, then announced, "I have 10 minutes to play Minecraft before the cookies are done! Let's go!"



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From my heart to yours


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