All this Christmas talk about the “star in the east” reminds me of a recent night I spent stargazing far from city lights, high in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. There’s something beautifully oppressive about thousands of visible stars. With the Milky Way so thick I could see where it got its name, I could easily imagine that the God who spilled it across the sky, and knows each star by name, knows me intimately too.
As I was reminded that night, it’s good to be known. And God’s Christmas gift to us—Immanuel, God with us— is that we can know Him too.
Both knowing and being known transforms our identities. And our middle schoolers? They can certainly use some of that. Although pointing our kids to God is our highest priority, we can also model His love for our sons and daughters by making an effort to know them intimately too and allow ourselves to be known by them.
It’s easy to think that we know our kids. I mean, we’ve witnessed every major milestone, from her first steps to his remembering to wear deodorant on his own for the first time. (Not there yet? Take heart—the day will come!) But as our kids venture through the middle school years, they change rapidly. Practically daily! Our kids don’t even know who they are most days; we’d be foolish to assume we’ve got them pegged.
Part of the joy and responsibility of parenting is taking time to get to know—and re-get to know—our kids. And this Christmas season might be a perfect opportunity to give your kids that gift—the gift of being known. Here are a few practical ideas to begin:
MAKE SCHOOL BREAKS COUNT
With more time together comes more opportunities to discover your kids anew. Be intentional about how you spend your time over the holidays, trading busyness for meaningful interactions. If you’ve wanted to plan a one-on-one date, now is the time.
ASK GREAT QUESTIONS
When someone asks questions, it shows she cares to get to know you. Oh, your middle schooler may squirm or try to deflect with one-word answers, but don’t give up easily. And if deeper questions aren’t getting anywhere, try the “Would You Rather” game (e.g., “Would you rather… vacation at the beach or in the mountains? … eat chocolate-covered ants or mushrooms?”).
LOOK FOR THE GOOD
We often get so accustomed to seeing the worst in our family members that we overlook their many admirable characteristics. This month, make a running list of your son or daughter’s very best strengths. Notice them, record them, and then share them with your child. When we’re known for our best, we tend to rise to the occasion!
I might not be able to name every star in the Milky Way, but I am known by the God who does. And when I make an effort to know my kids intimately, yet without judgment, I give them a taste of Immanuel that will keep them craving more.