Picture yourself many years from now talking with your grown
children. What kind of relationship do you hope to have?
Looking into the future may help you focus on your relationship
right now. Are you creating a meaningful relationship with your
children or are you just "getting through" the days? Are you taking
time to connect or are you solely focused on the daily activities
and to-do list?
Creating a meaningful relationship with your children is not
another item for your to-do list. So much of how your children feel
about themselves is based on their relationship with you. Not the
stuff you give them or the classes you drive them to, but their
daily interactions with you, your conversations, your ability to
appreciate who they are.
If you want strengthen or deepen your relationship with your
children, you can begin with these four steps.
We may think we are good listeners, but much of the time we are
half-listening, or listening without eye contact, or partly
listening while coming up with what we are going to say next. This
is especially true when we are listening to our children.
Children talk a lot so they can share what they are learning and
process what they are experiencing. They are always looking to be
heard and validated by someone they love-it helps them believe in
who they are. But so much of the time either we are not listening
or we are in teaching mode; ready to explain why what they are
doing or saying is wrong and why they should do it differently.
While it is difficult to listen intently all the time, we can
practice our listening skills with our children; we can nod and
listen, ask questions and reflect back what we hear. Maybe there
are a few teachable moments here and there, but more of the time is
spent really listening to what they have to say.
From the time our children can talk, we expect them to speak
respectfully to others, but very often we do not model this
behavior. More often than not, we are impatient with our children
or they become the recipients of our frustration, even when our
frustration has nothing to do with them.
We may flippantly tell them that they drive us crazy or snap at
them when they ask a question. Or we may accidently run into them
and instead of apologizing, we explain why it's their fault (if you
weren't in my way I wouldn't have run into you!).
During interactions with our children we can do our best to use
kind words, apologize when appropriate and say thank you. If we
expect our children to treat people respectfully, we need to
demonstrate what that means.
When we become parents we often believe there is a "way" we are
supposed to be. We may feel the need to act or dress differently,
or maybe we believe we have to let go of part of ourselves to fit
the role of parent.
We may believe that we need to be more rigid and serious instead
of easy-going or funny, but it's quite the opposite-parenting
necessitates a great sense of humor and an ability to go with the
Maybe you need to let go of a habit or two, but it's unnecessary
to let go of the things that bring you joy. We need to model for
our children what it means to have a full life, a life full of
friends, hobbies and interests. There are times when these parts of
ourselves take a backseat due to parental responsibility, but we
don't have to let them go completely.
You are not supposed to be perfect and you are not supposed to
be like anybody else-you are supposed to be YOU, as a parent.
As parents we are excited to share with our children-our
interests, our hobbies and our sports team. This is a great part of
parenting, passing along our joys, but we also need to remember
that our children have joys, too. We have to be open-minded to
their passions and realize they may be different than ours.
It is our job to advocate for our children, to be proud of who
they are and who they came here to be, but much of the time we end
up telling them to be different.
Instead of expecting them to love everything we love, we can
notice their interests, ask questions, listen to their opinions and
respect their perspective.
And really, mutual respect is the real secret to any great
Cathy Cassani Adams is a certified parent coach and mom of
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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