Last night I stopped at the store to pick up one thing when a bald man with a little girl wearing a soccer uniform stopped me. “Excuse me, do you know where the hair bands are? I know you don’t work here,” he added quickly with a wry smile and a little shrug. The little girl’s blonde hair that looked like all seven-year-old girls at the end of a long day at school. I wasn’t sure how the hair was going to fit in the hair band once we got it, but luckily I didn’t have to worry about that. I started to point towards the aisle, but then realized I wasn’t sure, so I walked with them. We found the hair bands and I was about go back to my aisle when I realized, he might not know what to get. I stood there with them explaining we wanted to try to find the smallest size and picked some rainbow colored ones from the bottom of the display. “Are these ok?” I asked the little girl. She shyly nodded her head, her dad thanked me again for my help and I walked away with a smile. I was happy to make that brief connection with a stranger and help out when they needed it most.
Have you ever thought of it that way, that you can have a momentary connection with a stranger? What do I even mean by the word connection? Connection to me, is interacting on a personal level with someone. A connection is taking the extra time to slow down and give your full attention to someone else. In our busy lives we interact with hundreds of people a day. Many times we buzz around and keep things on the surface – hi, how are you, how are the kids. You rattle off the standard questions to be polite without truly listening to the answers. Or if you are answering the questions you reply with the standard answers – I’m good, they’re great, we’re so busy. It happens out of necessity because in our daily lives we just don’t have time to sit and have deep conversations with everyone who crosses our path each day. We can however slow down just enough to take an extra minute with a friend, co-worker or neighbor and giving them your full attention ask what they’ve been up to. You can instantly reconnect with a friend by sending them a simple text “I’m thinking about you.” How do you know if you’ve connected? It feels different. It warms you up, makes you feel good and brings a smile to your face.
How do we connect with our kids? The best way to connect with your kids is to meet them where they are. What does that mean? It means if they are a little boy that loves cars, you get down on your hands and knees and push the cars around his imaginary world. A teenage girl might connect on a trip to Starbucks or a walk around the mall or even by flipping through a catalog sharing why she does or does not like a certain pair of shoes. Babies can connect at bath time by splashing, giggling and playing in the water. Toddlers love to explore and share their discoveries with a friend who looks at the discoveries with the same level of wonder. It doesn’t have to be fancy, hard or take a lot of money. All it truly requires is your attention.
At the core of it all every person wants the same thing, they want to feel like they matter. They want to feel like you understand them and are interested in what they are going through. By connecting with someone you give them that validation. It energizes both people. It builds both people up. It gives them confidence and security that there is someone else out there that supports me. A connection can last a moment or a lifetime, both are vital. A connection can happen in person, on-line, via phone or even just by reading a blog post………..
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.