Thanks to Maureen Denard at FindaNanny.net for this guest post. The adolescent years can stress a parent-child relationship. This article has several practical ideas for helping the bond to grow stronger.
In a world where there never seems to be enough time to get everything done, connecting with your kids and forming real, lasting relationships with them can seem more difficult than ever. There are ways to bolster your connection to your kids and find ways of fostering strong relationships, though, even when time is at a premium. These tips can help you make the most of your relationship with your child, laying the groundwork for an environment of love, close bonds and trust.
Turn Screen Time into Family Time
Instead of retiring to separate rooms at the end of the day to zone out in front of different screens, why not take the chance to turn screen time into family time? Arrange regular family movie nights, get invested in an age-appropriate show that everyone in the family can discuss and bring family game night into the 21st century with party-style video games that encourage group participation.
Have Dinner Together Regularly
When everyone has their own practices, school and work demands to attend to, it often seems easier to grab meals where you can and hope that everyone is having reasonably healthy dinners while they’re on their own. However, kids from families who regularly eat meals together at the family table tend to perform better in school, are less likely to be and are more likely to finish high school than those who eat alone or in front of the television. Even if you struggle to carve out time for your family meals and rely on pre-packaged convenience food, make a point of having dinner together at the dinner table at least once each week.
Start Your Own Book Club
Books like the Harry Potter franchise and others of their ilk have mass appeal, drawing in and captivating readers of all ages. The next time you decide to pick up a book, why not choose one from your kids’ bookshelves or select a great read from the Young Adult section that your teenager is interested in reading at the same time? When you read the same books, you’ll be able to form your own family version of a book club and find plenty of fodder for conversation at the family table.
Look for Common Ground
If you and your teenager are both fans of classic rock, make a point of trading playlists with one another on a regular basis. Talk to your kids about areas in which you share common ground, and cultivate those interests. When you’re able to talk about hobbies or activities you both share, you’re able to connect on an entirely new level. It’s also a great way to show older kids that you aren’t quite as out of touch as they imagine.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
More than anything else, knowing that you’re always there to talk and that you truly will listen encourages a strong bond between you and your children. Make sure that your kids know there’s nothing you can’t or won’t talk about with them, and that you’re always available when they’re in need of advice, a sounding board or even just to discuss their day.
Establish a Judgment-Free Zone
Set aside one particular area in your home and call it the “judgment-free zone.” Let this be the area where your kids can come to you with any fears, questions or concerns and where they are able to talk freely, without fear of repercussions or judgmental treatment. Knowing that you’re not going to scold or judge makes it easier for your kids to come to you with difficult situations, which will make your bond that much stronger.
Make Time to Spend Time
Put down your phone, turn off the television and step away from the computer when your child talks to you. Make eye contact, and listen intently. Your kids need to know that they’re the most important part of your life, and that they’re not competing with work or the television for your attention. Make time to spend time with your kids, and leave room in your schedule for one-on-one time with each of your children individually.
Helping your child develop vital thinking skills is perhaps the best way to prepare them for leaving the nest. My new book: How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain.
You can grow the bond with your child through better listening. Download the FREE ebook, Listening to Understand.