You’ve probably heard reminders before that you need to take time to date your spouse. While family time is great, you probably understand that it is important to spend one-on-one time with just your spouse. Hopefully this doesn’t feel like I’m adding something else to your to-do list, but I believe that it’s also important to spend one-on-one time with each of your children as well.

Relationships grow through time spent together. Most of the time you spend with your children will be with other members of the family around. But sometimes you need to be alone with your child allowing you to focus your attention fully on them. One-on-one time is a high-growth time for your relationship,  intentionally designed to invest in the relationship itself. While most of our normal family time has many other goals – getting ready for school, getting homework done, cleaning up the house, eating dinner, etc,  time spent with one child clearly demonstrates to the child that you have made them a priority over all the other goals you could wish to accomplish at that time.

From my experience, one-on-ones are usually fun for both the parent and the child. Children typically love the attention and will be well behaved during your time together. With no siblings to compete with for your attention or with whom they can argue or fight, behavioral problems are rare in these situations. You can relax and enjoy your time together because you only have one set of eyes looking at you, seeking your attention.

Sometimes you will want to do something very special with a child. Choose to do something that you know your child will really enjoy. This can be a great memory for you and that child to share. However, you can also grab one-on-one time in a normal week without spending a lot of money. Take a child to the store with you and stop for a few minutes at a coffee shop on the way. Take a child out for fast food while the rest of the family is left home to eat healthy food. Challenge your child to a one-on-one competition in some sport and go grab a Gatorade together afterwards.

If you have younger children: Don’t feel a pressure to make the time you are spending with them seem like some magical moment out of a movie. You don’t need to have deep conversations, you don’t need to have moments worthy of a youtube video, and you don’t need to say something profound that will stay with your child for the rest of his life. As long as you focus your attention on your child, chances are it will be a special time for your child that is well worth your time.

If you have older children: As a youth pastor working with middle school and high school students, I often did one-on-ones with students. I found that often we would talk for awhile, casually wandering from one topic to another. At some point in the conversation, we would usually hit a topic that would really get the student’s eyes to light up and the conversation would increase in intensity. If you have an older child, figure out what topic gets your child talking with enthusiasm. That will be a great time to really learn more about what makes them tick.

My three-year-old, Tyler, has recently been infatuated with chipmunks for reasons that are beyond my comprehension. During a recent one-on-one time with him, we stopped at a pet store just to check out the animals. To our surprise, the store actually had a chipmunk (not for sale, just to look at). Tyler watched with eager eyes as the little guy played in his cage and we even named him. This was an amazing one-on-one time for Tyler and I, but probably would be a non-event for most of you reading this. Stop for a moment and think of a simple one-on-one you could do with one of your children (who do you need to spend some extra time with soon?) and make it happen this week!

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