You drive them to school. You attend their sports games. You even have an occasional meal with them. Yet, you still feel like the relationship with your kids is superficial. There may not even be a lot of conflict between you, but you still feel more like strangers.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could connect with your kids more often? If you could begin the process of re-establishing a routine to lay the groundwork for a positive relationship? As a parent, you can create a relational environment, that ideally over time can help your kids know they can come to you with their problems. A relationship which they know they may be heard, rather than lectured. An environment where they may be encouraged rather than ridiculed. A relationship filled with dialogues of sound advice and discussion rather than parental monologues and attempts to control.
So how do you begin the process of connecting with your kids? Here are some suggestions that will take a minimum of 5 minutes per day to enhance the relationship with your kids:
Become an observer
A direct key to connect with your kids is to find out what influences them or what captures their attention. Where do they spend most of their time? Maybe your son spends most of his time gaming with his friends, or during extracurriculars. Perhaps your daughter enjoys spending time with her friends on her athletic team or spending time with her friends. By observing, you will learn more about your kids that can be a doorway to future discussion.
Become a learner
Once you have discovered what your kids like and what influences their attention, become intentional to learn more about it. Ask them some questions and become the student. Asking non-threating questions invites conversation rather than competition for the best idea. Even the youngest child can offers insight of new things and ideas. Engaging in the manner helps you connect with your kids because it communicates their hobbies are important. More importantly, it communicates they are important to you. Everyone likes to spend time talking about their interests. For kids, it makes them feel intelligent and mature.
Be an encourager
Childhood and adolescence is a learning process. Their judgment and critical thinking skills are developing. This is part of the developmental task we each must go through. They make mistakes. (So do parents!) Just as certain that teenagers will make these blunders; parents will get frustrated during this process. Their decisions will not make any sense to you, and their mistakes can be tiresome. But, when the dust settles, everyone need to be encouraged. They need to know that they are more valuable to you than their failures. Encouragement comes in many forms. Verbal affirmations, physical hugs, a well written note, calm demeanor, and tone of voice are just a few examples that you can become an encourager to connect with your kids.
Be a participator
For most kids, relationships are more important to them than wealth or prestige. So, become an active participant in their world. If you know what captures their attention then find some way to participate with them, even if you do not enjoy it. If they value social causes, then choose to participate in them together. Find a local community organization that needs volunteers and invite your kids along. Get creative and find deliberate ways to connect with your kids.
Be willing to get some help
Often, parents and kids can get stuck in rut. Relationships sometimes need outside help to bring clarity and insight. Are your kids struggling with problems at school? Instead of letting academic problems cause problems, consider some outside tutoring. Are you concerned about your child’s mood? Talk to your healthcare provider about some referrals to professional counselors that specialize in treating children and teenagers. Even sleep problems can make everybody grumpy. Maybe a sleep specialist can help! The main thing is for your kids to know that you are on their team and you are dedicated to help them.