Most parents want to develop a close, lasting bond with their children that goes beyond the years a child lives in the home. Having a relationship with children that transcends time begins early in a child’s life as the heart of the child bonds with the heart of the parent.
I’m happy to say my boys are grown, but they are two of my best friends. And, they call or text frequently to discuss life and seek my input. I couldn’t ask for more. I realize now there were some things we did along the way that built the bond we have even today. Some of it may have been “accident” on our part. They don’t have to be for younger parents.
Here are a 7 tips to help build strong, lifetime relationships with children:
Choose activities to do together that they enjoy. It’s a great plus if they enjoy your hobbies, but you will have better success in connecting if you do the things with them they enjoy most. Don’t try to create a clone of you. When they begin making choices for themselves, learn to love their activities and play times.
Don’t force yourself on your children. As children get older and begin developing outside interests, do not be the parent who always has to tag along. Be there if you are invited, but allow your children some freedom to explore. As they get older, welcome other adults you trust to invest in them. This is one of the great values of being active in a local church. Men I admire made huge impacts on my boys.
Remain accessible to your children always, but especially during busy or stressful times. Children cannot handle or understand stress the way adults can. They just know when they want or need their parents. Make sure you are available as much as possible when the desire strikes them. We made sure our boys knew they were never an interruption and we were always there when needed. That meant building our schedule around time planned with them. The busier I was and more stressful life became, the more I protected that time.
Communicate on their level and with their interests. Understand the language of their age and learn about the things they have interest in doing. I never knew much about soccer or wrestling, but one of our boys did, so now I do. Wanna wrestle?
Learn to love their friends. This is huge and will show that you value their choices in friends and relationships. We sometimes had to gently guide them and we even distracted them from some friends, but we wanted them to love everyone. Be patient with them. They should not be expected to have the maturity of an adult yet. They will make mistakes and will not always make the decisions you want them to make. Help them form good values then honor their ability to make choices while you are still there to help them recover when they make bad ones. They’ll need good decision making skills for a lifetime.
Slow down. Life races by and before you know it the kids are gone. Believe me when I say this…it passes fast. Too fast. In your race to provide them all the right opportunities, all the stuff, make sure you give them what they need most…YOUR TIME.
Be intentional. When my boys were young I didn’t have a smart phone. I worked hard running a business that I owned, was active in dozens of professional and spiritual activities, including holding public office, but I rarely missed a ballgame or practice. Their time went on my calendar first. FIRST. And, I had no problem saying no to other opportunities.
To be clear, none of these are excuses to give children everything they want or to allow them to set the standards for your home. I believe parents should parent. For more on my parenting philosophy here read other posts under the category of PARENTING. Connecting with children in a way that lasts beyond the years they must connect with you, however, begins early in the child’s life and takes a consistent effort on the part of the parents.
What ideas or ways can you add to build a lasting connection with children?