(4-6 minute read)
Growing up, when my friends and I had girl questions, we would almost always turn to a particular friend’s mother. It wasn’t because this mom was the “cool” mom, that was someone else’s mom. It wasn’t because she’d let us toilet paper the neighbor’s house, that was my mom (shhhh). And it wasn’t because she was the mom who always had snacks for us, that was a different friend’s mom too. It was simply because this mom had focused on having a great relationship with her daughter and because of that, all of us friends felt like we had a good relationship with her too.
Many parents want to have a great relationship with their kids. Parents want their kids to be able to tell them anything, they hope their kids actually want to spend time with them, and they’d like their kids to be able to take their advice. Truth is, many kids want that same kind of relationship with their parents too.
“How is building a relationship like that possible?”, you may ask. Well, read on and I’ll tell you.
First, REMEMBER THAT ALL RELATIONSHIPS TAKE TIME AND EFFORT.
It’s not going to be an overnight change. There will be ups and downs, good days and tough days, but there will be progress. Keep in mind why you want to make these changes.
Keep trying and keep loving your child. As you continuously work to improve your relationship, it will get stronger.
GRATITUDE AND PRAISE
Take some time to notice what your child does. Did your kid finish their homework without a million reminders? Has your child kept their room clean for a record setting three days? Did you notice your kid sharing with a friend?
Let your child know that you’ve noticed. Thank your child for their kindness. Tell your child how proud you are of them for telling the truth. Notice how well your child brushed their hair and tell them. This will help your child understand that you think the world of them.
TALK ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS
What do you do when your child gets home from school or a date? What do you do with your child when you get home from work? Take the time to ask your child how their day went. Take the time to listen to them, even if it’s five or ten minutes. Don’t nag or criticize, just let them tell you about it. Instead of interrupting, let your kid keep talking.
I remember one day in 8th grade, I came home really sad. My mom quickly noticed and said, “Honey, you look upset. Do you want to tell me about it?” In an eruption of the tears I’d been holding back, I told her how upset I got when I saw all my friends get on the bus to go to a friend’s house without me. I knew I was probably overreacting, and they weren’t trying to exclude me, but it hurt.
We didn’t have a huge conversation, mostly she just listened to me, and gave me a hug as she told me, “Oh honey, I’m so sorry. That does hurt seeing your friends get together without you, no wonder you seemed so upset.” It was the simplest of conversations, but it was a building block to why I feel like I can tell me mom anything.
SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR CHILD
Your kids probably don’t like to do everything you like to do. They won’t always want to fold the towels with you or do the dishes with you. Find what interests your child and try out their hobbies.
If your son likes to kick the ball around in the back yard, go kick it with him. If your daughter likes to listen to T-Swift, Shawn Mendes, and Ariana Grande, listen with her. Sometimes, it’s easier to try out their hobbies than to drag them to yours.
The other day, my friend was telling me about how great her dad is. She labeled him as the “manliest man” with a houseful of girls, and none of his girls like sports like he does. He still finds ways to connect with them. For example, when see the girls chatting with each other in their rooms and he’ll come in their room, sit down and say, “Okay ladies, it’s time for some girl talk,” and he’ll talk with them about their crushes, friends, whatever the girls want to talk about. He finds time to spend with his kids in their way.
Not everyone’s kids will let them in on “girl talk,” but there are ways your kids will let you in. As you find out what your child likes and what is important to them, spend time with your child doing those things.
HAVE MUTUAL RESPECT
All parents want their kids to listen to them. Same goes for kids. Kids have a hard time listening to and respecting their parents when their parents won’t listen to or respect them. Why is that? Well, kids need a role model and an example. It’s like the golden rule. Treat your kids the way you want them to treat you.
Because you are the parent, you have the final say. But if you’re trying to decide rules for your child or picking out their outfit, take the time to listen to your child and try to understand what their needs and desires are. You will likely learn something from them, something that can make parenting them a little easier. Respect your child and treat them with the kind of respect you want.
AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.
Love, love, love your kids – and show it. Make sure they know you love them, not that you’re just saying it because you’re “supposed to.”
Say “I love you” with words, notes, texts, etc. Show it by serving your kids, helping your kids with projects (not just doing it yourself though – quality time comes from working together). Give your kids time and put away your phones and tablets. Let your kids feel your love with hugs, pats on the back, a kiss on the forehead.
Even if at times it seems hard to build a relationship with your children, keep trying. Keep loving your kids, talking with them, spending time with them, letting them know how proud you are, and respecting them. Even if at the end of the day it doesn’t seem like it’s working very well, keep trying. Little by little your relationship will strengthen, and your children will remember the little things you did with them.