Open Window Opportunities and How to Make the Most of Them

Have you ever just blown it with your kids? I have! In fact, I blew it just yesterday…

Me, the mom who prays every morning that she won’t miss a single relationship-building opportunity with the kids still living at home, absolutely and totally blew it!

In a house full of teens and young adults, the chance to hear what’s going on in their hearts is priceless, precious, and of inestimable value. And yet, yesterday when one of my boys opened the window of his heart, I, with one carelessly chosen word closed the window and missed my opportunity for heart connection with him.

What was that one word? It was a distractedly murmured  “Hmmm…” in response to his attempt to talk with me.

That was it. One word that sent a clear and unmistakable message to a boy, who at that moment, was longing to share his heart and include his mom in a world that sometimes seems so big and confusing.

That one word, breathed out as an afterthought as I sat at my desk head down and typing, told my son that I had pressing priorities and that right then, he just wasn’t one of them. My boy absolutely knows I love him, but at that moment, he knew that writing, and emails, and to-dos a mile long trumped his position on my scale of importance.

As I glanced up to see him leaving the room, shoulders slumped and head down, those all-important priorities seemed like nothing but hay and stubble. In truth, those all-important priorities weren’t so important after all. At that moment, those all-important priorities were just a distraction from my real all-important priorities… my family and the relationships in our home.

Oh, you know I called him back! And, he came. But that moment, that opportunity, that window of openness to his heart was gone. He’d closed the window, and instead of sharing his heart, we shared bits and pieces of the activities of his day.

We shared the “What’s” of his life, instead of the “Who” of his heart.

Open-window opportunities to connect with our kid’s hearts can never be taken for granted. They’re not guaranteed. They’re not promised. They can’t be scheduled, or planned, or carefully placed on our calendars. When those fleeting moments come, (often at the most inopportune moment) we must be prepared and ready to make the most of the opportunity we’re being offered.

I get it… Sometimes it’s just not possible to instantly stop what we’re doing. However, the question we must answer is this: “What is the characterization of our life?” Are we always too busy? Too distracted? Too preoccupied by other things? If, by contrast, our kids know that we, generally speaking, take the time to stop and talk, an occasional, “Not right now,” won’t bother them in the least. But, if the habit of our life is distraction and a habitual disconnect in communication, each missed open-window opportunity will only serve to deepen the divide in our relationship with our kids.

Open window opportunities to our kid’s hearts are not the time to step in, take over, and rearrange what they’re thinking and feeling. If opening the window to their hearts becomes a time of scolding, or finger pointing, or even just “Mom” drama, our kids will close and securely lock that window. Honestly, once they’ve locked the window to their heart, we can’t pry it open or break the lock, and we certainly can’t smash the glass. All we can do is pray, and wait, and hope they’ll give us another open-window opportunity.

While open window opportunities do oftentimes present us with an avenue to share biblical counsel, a wise parent will ask permission before rushing in to share that biblical counsel. Much like we want our children to “ask us; not inform us,” of their plans, we must ask if they want our counsel, instead of informing them that they’re going to receive it whether they want it or not! Trust me, when we’re forcing our counsel when it hasn’t been asked for, all our teens and young adults will hear is “Blah, blah, blah!”

My kids are growing up… So are yours! I don’t know how many more open window opportunities I’ll have with them. My prayer for myself is the same as my prayer for you. I’m praying we have open eyes, attentive ears, and sensitive hearts to recognize the slightest opening of that window to their hearts. And, I’m praying our busyness, our calendars, and our not-so-all-important priorities will never distract us from the truly all-important priority of our families.

Then, when our children open that precious window to their heart, may we walk through carefully, thankfully, and with our own hearts open to receiving what they long to share.

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