Maintaining Good Relationships with Your Kids
Tips for Maintaining a Relationship With Your Children
In your life, relationships will come and go. Not only do relationships come and go, but they change as well. Over time, people will change as will their interests, feelings, beliefs, and life situations. Any relationship that cannot change and adapt is destined to fail. At times, a failing relationship is natural. Other times, it is unacceptable.
One set of relationships that you are not willing to let fail are the ones with your children. From diapers to kindergarten and dorm rooms to grandchildren, the relationships with your children are the ones that you treasure most. The positive impact on your life is, and has been, immeasurable. You aim to keep that positivity coming.
It takes work, though. Even the best relationships need occasional maintenance or they risk breaking down.
Do you want to have the best possible relationships with your kids? Here’s how:
What sort of relationship do you desire to have with your child? This is an important question to answer for yourself since good relationships come in endless varieties. Do you want to speak on the phone weekly or see each other daily? Do you want to keep the conversations superficial and light, or are you seeking deep and meaningful? The decision-making process does not have to only fall on your shoulders, consult with your child to see how your desires mesh with theirs.
If you have more than one child, establishing goals for each will be an effective way to balance out the individual differences they have. Perhaps, one child is interested in a one type of relationship while the other is interested in another level. No one ever said that you have to treat everyone the same way. Different people want different things. This is normal.
Listening is a simple and basic skill that people take for granted too often. This is a shame since no relationship can be successful without understanding, and understanding cannot be had without listening. When is the last time that you asked your child a question and listened to the answer without being distracted by something on TV or thinking about what you were going to say next?
You can improve your listening by avoiding distractions before, during, and after the conversation to ensure that the information has been heard and remembered. If listening is difficult for you, changing the method of communication may help. Switching to more written communication like email and texting could assist by allowing you to slow down and focus on the written words.
Avoid Jumping to Conclusions
In relationships, people make mistakes by assuming that they know what someone means, what someone wants, or how they feel about a situation without clear evidence. Sure. You probably know your child as well as anyone, but that does not mean that you will be accurate all the time.
Jumping to conclusions will distort what they say into what you thought they said. This difference will increase the risk for future conflict.
To reduce your tendencies to jump to conclusions, focus only on what is said. If their statements or responses to your questions are vague, sarcastic, or ambiguous, ask more questions to verify your conclusions. Enquiring in a direct manner is the best way to find out what your child feels or wants. It may slow the process, but it will eliminate unnecessary misunderstandings.
Find the Source of the Pain
There is no better way to endanger a relationship than by rejecting someone’s feelings. Your child’s feelings are deeply personal to them. Being told that their feelings are wrong, bad, or faulty will alienate them from you. Even if you do not state your disagreements so boldly, a lack of validation through silence will prevent the closeness that you want to attain.
Certain Words and Phrases Carry Power in Relationships
One such phrase is “I understand why you feel that way.” Seven simple words can do so much to validate their feelings and strengthen the bond between you. You don’t have to agree. You only need to put yourself in their shoes to see their perspective.
As a parent, you might find yourself holding back your views and opinions towards your child. You might worry that your words will not be received well, and this will threaten the relationship. Alternatively, you might find yourself making all of your perspectives known widely and candidly.
How is This Information Received by Your Child?
The target you should hope to achieve is assertive communication. Assertive communication is geared towards honesty and openness in a way that maintains respect and value for both parties. Bottling up feelings does not blend well with assertive communication and neither does being rude and hurtful. Being assertive can never ensure that the other party is assertive in return, but it drastically improves the odds of fair, productive communication.
Be Flexible with Old Traditions
As a parent, you have a long history of traditions, routines, and rituals surrounding holidays, birthdays, and special events. At times, these habits can become a negative because repetition has made them less fun and more ordinary. Additionally, these traditions may be remnants of a past life before your children were married and had children of their own. Too often, parents hold on to outdated routines because they fear the unknown associated with letting go. Your lack of flexibility leads to less desirable relationships.
To maintain a strong relationship with your child, don’t fear change; embrace it. Healthy, happy, and fulfilling relationships are the ones that grow and change with the times.
Life around you has shifted greatly over the years. You would do well to change with it.
Rather than becoming frustrated that your child cannot come for Christmas this year, ask if they would like to celebrate the weekend before. Instead of having turkey for the 30th year in a row, try a ham. Create new traditions that are based on present interests, not obsolete notions from the past.
You care about your children. You want to have relationships that reflect that level of love. By doing your part to set goals, listen, validate their feelings, and use assertive communication, you create an environment for success. From there, being flexible with old routines while creating new traditions will keep the relationship focused on the future. With these tools, everyone wins.
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