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Special Time

October 19, 2022

By Derek Handley

Midweek Musings is a weekly Covenant blog with a variety of authors and a variety of topics.

Hi guys. It's been a while so I feel like I need to reintroduce myself. I'm Derek, Communications Coordinator at Covenant Presbyterian Church. I more or less "produce" this blog #MidweekMusings while Jo takes the lead with the content.

So, I have 2 kids - boys. Ages 6 and 3.

It has become a huge part of my identity, even if I didn't intend it to be. Previous identities include but are not limited to: husband, musician, young professional, Cub fan, beer enthusiast, pastor's kid...

Disclaimer: I have 99.9% welcomed my new identity. It's just that... when I first became a parent, I tried holding onto my previous identities with a vice grip. Especially "young professional."

I have accepted that I am no longer a "young professional." I am now a full-blown parent, though I am proud to say I am still technically a millennial - geriatric millennial. That's what society has labeled my age demographic.

I digress.

Being a parent has changed me, no doubt. I could write a few blogs on what I have learned, and plenty of questionably helpful advice.

One of the things that I have learned is that setting aside intentional "special time" is monumental in developing a relationship with your kids.

Like much in life, this is easier said than done. Life is complicated. You have to work, you have to make dinner, you have to clean, and even put out proverbial fires set by the very individuals you are supposed to be cutting out this "special time" for.

I recently listened to an episode of the podcast Life Kit on NPR called "The 5-minute daily playtime ritual that can get your kids to listen better."

Parenting can easily fall into "do this" "do that" mode. Life Kit editor Becky Harlan echoes this sad truth. In this episode, pediatric psychologist Roger Harrison is the guest and talks about finding 5-10 minutes a day of one-on-one time with your kids. He refers to this as "special time."

Just labeling it "special time" alone makes it special in the eyes of littles. And it intentionally lets your child know that this is 5-10 minutes out of their day where they can rely on you, they can say or do nearly anything without a demand being thrown their way. And this is their time to control their environment completely.

Harrison even has rules for this "special time," narrowed down to the acronym P.R.I.D.E. Praise, Reflect, Imitate, Describe, Enthusiasm. This acronym of rules outlines the overarching rule to not ask any questions.

I highly recommend giving this podcast a listen. I find it fascinating to see into the brains of young ones. There is a reason why Jesus repeatedly emphasizes to have "faith like a child."

And the same reason Jesus preaches this applies to this lesson of how we can better relate to the kids in our lives.

Living in community with one another as Christians involves a lot of intentionality.

It takes more than just saying "we should hang out some time."

It takes more than just saying "do this" and "do that" to a family member who is already overwhelmed.

It takes more than offering advice or even asking questions to a friend that is chronically depressed (actually in this case it literally takes less).

Just like the kids in our lives need, our brothers and sisters need us to come down to their level, to meet them where they are (just like God did sending Jesus).

Life Kit visuals editor Becky Harlan engages her 2-year-old son, August Grabowsky, in "special time." It's a kind of child-directed playtime that children's health professionals say can be helpful in treating disruptive conduct in kids. Meredith Rizzo/NPR

I'm sorry, that picture right there is precious (that's something pre-children Derek would have never said).

Hope you can spend some special time with the ones you love, friends.

And I hope I somehow steered this from a parenting blog into a Christian blog.



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