If you are feeling out of touch with your kids, you are probably are. Often families struggle to feel connected; however no matter how old your children are, it is never too late to build, rebuild, or strengthen your relationship. Remember your efforts might not be eagerly received by your children; that is just “Kids Speak” for this is new and a little scary. But know that secretly inside they are eating it up and they are just scared to admit it because if they do acknowledge how good it feels then they make themselves vulnerable to the hurt they will feel if stops. As they come to trust that this is not their parent’s latest fad but something they can count on, then they will begin to come around and allow you to see how much they actually enjoy your company. Here are a few easy ways to get started:
Dinner Together: Yes I get it, this one makes just about every list, and I heard the collected sigh from all of you! But you hear this so often because it works. Hang in there with me, I am not asking for the Norman Rockwell Painting ideal of a family dinner with everybody sitting at the dinner table with cloth napkins. I am suggesting that you gather around the pizza box on your living room floor with the television turned off for 20 minutes or stop driving, pull off into an empty parking lot, unplug the headphones, and visit for 10 to 15 minutes while you consume your dinner from the “drive through” on the way to hockey practice. Embrace the spirit of this idea on a consistent basis and you will be surprised of the conversations that will arise.
Bed Time Stories: Children never outgrow bed time stories. This is especially true for teenagers, as bedtime is when they finally let down their guard. Now your 17 year old may cringe at the thought of you reading them a story book; so as the US Marines say adapt and overcome. Read alternating pages to each other, get two copies of the same book and read silently together, or just sit together and tell each other a story. This works particularly well if it is done after the bedtime routine is done and they are all snuggled in for the night. Remember they will think you are up to something so do not try and slip in a moral lesson and prove them right. Just be together in the moment and be content with that. By doing this, trust that the right time for that moral lessen will present itself in the future when it will be better received.
Share a Project or Activity: This has to be one that they want to do. If is something you want to do then they will see it as a chore, not an opportunity. It very well may be something that you have no interest in doing and may actually seem quite unbearable. TOUGH! Focus on the outcome of how this project or activity will enhance your relationship. Your child will recognize that going to a heavy metal concert, or camping in the snow when it is 20 below is not something you really want to do, just think of the credit you will earn by sucking it up and doing it. An important note is once you make a plan to do something together, you may Never! Never! Never! (DID I SAY NEVER ENOUGH TIMES?) take it away as a punishment. Your child will hear the message that because they were bad they do not deserve to spend time with you when what in fact what you likely needed was the time together in the first place. It is okay to give consequences as long as time together is not one of them.
Thanks, stay tuned to our website for more ideas on how to help your children and family.
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