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How To Have A Better Relationship With Your Children

Nov 7, 2007
You have come to a realization that you simply don't have a close relationship with your children. It seems as if just yesterday they were newborns and now they have become children who have deep heartfelt feelings that they can only describe in their most eloquent way. They may have told you that they don't like their dad, grandma is weird, the babysitter is not cool, you are mean or in some cases went so far as to say, "I hate you!" Why has your once "little ity bity baby boo boo" who couldn't seem to get enough of you, has reached a point that they rather not see or talk to you? There is more to it then just a phase. They are experiencing real feelings of hurt underneath all the anger and/or jealousy. The suggestions given in this article will at least start a process of understanding and communicating with your child.

Begin to examine when things went from good to bad in your relationship with your children. You may not be able to exactly pinpoint when or name a specific event, but try to think of all the negative things that have happened around them that you may or may not have been involved. For example, if you have separated or divorced from your spouse and initially it seemed your children had no hard feelings about it, now they seem to grow distant from you, it could mean they are now realizing they miss you and don't know how to express it. Of course, there are also those situations where mom or dad may do or say something to make them not look upon you too favorable, but it is up to you to make your best impression when you are around them. Feeding into the negativity will not get you what you want. Remember your goal is to have a better relationship with them. Buying them everything they want is just a temporary fix and always seems to backfire. Later, when you can't afford to buy that most coveted toy, they will go back to resenting you. The best approaches to building a relationship with children are as follows: communication, listening, taking action and most of all showing praise and love. Anyone can use these simple tips from the "hated" stepmother to the "mean" babysitter. These seem simple enough, but some caretakers don't take them seriously. We will explore all of these.

Communication. When you communicate with your child you must plan on what you will say before you say it, this is especially true for parents who haven't seen their children in months and controlling parents. Watch your tone of voice is it gentle and kind or firm and direct? How can you ask questions regarding the things they care most about when you don't know what it is that they care about? Find out who are their best friends and what they like to do at the playground, besides asking the ever-popular question of "How was school today?" Your child will most likely answer, "good." What did the teacher say or do that made you laugh? Did you raise your hand today? Know something to say about their favorite television show, rock band or book. Do you know what they like to read? Do you know how the books they read make them feel? For example, a teenager talked about wild thoughts he had after reading several books during his childhood about ghosts, witches, goblins and other scary characters. When he became older, he said he gave his parents trouble, because he couldn't get the thoughts out of his head. The television news show had interviewed his saddened father and he had admitted he didn't know what was in those books. Express concern over things they care about and ask to know more. A small token that says, "I care about you or I pay attention to you" would be a nice compliment to a good conversation. Talk with the other parent, teacher, babysitter or relative about their progress in school, how they are doing at home, and ask to see some of the things they have done. You will need some prior knowledge about the latest happenings so that they can see you care. Praise them for their work. Share good and bad stories and how you were rewarded or scolded about the things you did in school, how you grew up, places you visited, things you bought, etc. Remind them how intelligent they are and explain to them what you like most about them. Above all, tell them specific reasons as to why you love them. The statement "I love you" without specifics has no sincerity (more on this later.)

Be careful of what you say to your children. If you say things that are often critical and demanding, then be prepared for what goes around to come back around. You are raising a child that will be that way not only to others, but to you too! Parenting when done in love is a beautiful thing, but parenting done in a military style of dos and don'ts with no explanations given is only leading your child down a path to secretly hating you. Eventually they will become an adult, move far away and won't care too much about you or the family. Holidays will come and go with or without them. If you were raised in a strict household, consider the "secret" relationship you had with your parents? You most likely didn't like them too much. Now you may or may not understand why they were strict, but it doesn't justify how you may be negatively reacting to your children. "Don't do this...don't do that...because I said so!" Children will most likely gravitate to the parent who is less strict and be more open with he or she. There is no need to become jealous or overly critical with the other parent, you need to make some changes in your personality to build that bond. It isn't up to your child or your mate to fix what you are doing wrong.

Listen. When your child seems to open up, be prepared to listen. Avoid the temptation to interrupt no matter how positive your comment. Children aren't like adults they are not going to give you too much eye contact and may want to continue to play with their doll's hair, drive a toy truck or play on the computer while talking with you. Let them be. As long as they are talking and you are listening that is all you should be concerned about.

Now there will come that time when they will share information you rather not hear. It is best not to react with a negative expression or comment. If they reveal something about mom or dad, a relative or someone they have been exposed to that was negative, be ready to tell them, "Thank you for sharing." They may not want you to mention anything about what they said to that person. You will want to encourage them to talk with whoever is their caregiver if it is a situation that you can't control. Tell them that if you hear that the problem has not been solved within a certain amount of days you will have to talk with whomever they referenced. However, if it is some thing that isn't serious such as they saw mom kiss her boyfriend or dad had a lady in the car and both of you are separated or divorced, don't bother mentioning it to the former mate. Ask your child how did it make he or she feel? Then move on to another conversation. The key here is to not make a big deal about little things. If you find that your mate (or boss) is cheating, then document it and save it for the mediator when you (or they) are ready to get a divorce. The lesson to be learned here is don't get children involved in adult mess. They don't need to be on the witness stand. You also don't want to violate their trust or put them in a possible mentally, physically or sexually abusive situation when you aren't around for tattle tailing. Serious matters are for the police, children and youth services and/or court to handle. You don't want to ever have any regrets for not reporting mentally, physically or sexually abusive events.

Take action. Children need adults to say what they mean and mean what they say. Too often parents will make promises they can't keep. For instance, your child wants you to take them to a park, arcade, theater or some place else. You tell them, "Sure, I'll take you on XYZ date." Unfortunately, the date has come and gone. You never mention it. The child remembers what you said you will do, but doesn't bother saying anything because they have heard your excuses before, "You know I don't have the money. I was so busy with work. I just didn't have the time. Maybe next time." Children remember what you say and if you can't do something, it is better to say you can't, then later surprise them rather then the other way around. Take action. No parent can always be physically present for their child when they need them; therefore, be honest and always follow through on your promises.

Praise and Love. Children want to hear you say how much you "specifically" love and appreciate them. They want to know that the drawing they made was a masterpiece to be hung up on a wall or taken with you on a business trip. They need to know that you find them handsome, strong, intelligent or pretty. A hug says, "I care." A kiss says, "I think of you." A reward or gift says, "You are great!" Be creative! Use what you know and research for what you don't know to strengthen the bond between the two of you. There are so many parents who don't really bother to understand their children's world. They don't read a book, or watch a program to help them become better parents. They simply don't value wisdom. They rather complain, manipulate and control their children into doing what they want when they want. Children should be viewed as an opportunity to help us become better people; instead many see them as headaches that cost a lot of money and time.

As for the parents who may have been ill for quite some time and are just now getting back into the swing of things. Take your time. Don't feel rushed or rush your child into building a better relationship with you. Make yourself available to communicate, listen, go places, etc. Don't wait for your child to approach you with a conversation. You need to open up to them. They were not ill and out of your life for a time, you were. They watched you go through a traumatic illness and were told about it from others. Take the time to speak for yourself. Share with them what you went through and then move on. Don't dwell on the past for empathy. You are better and now! It is time to build a better relationship with your child that isn't about you anymore. Avoid the temptation to throw a pity party, guilt trip or any other burden on your child. Don't you think they have experienced enough?

Parents and caretakers, you can build a better relationship with children if you are sincerely willing to do some things in your own life differently that will enhance how you relate to them. Part of that learning process is to come outside of your world of dos and don'ts and go inside of a child's world of "I can and I will." You can learn a lot from children. Remember, children are given to parents and caretakers divinely to help them become better people before they die. For what you have been richly given from society, you can now give back.
About the Author
Nicholl McGuire, Freelance Writer and Mother of Four Visit her new blog: http://wanttohavechildren.blogspot.com for reference materials and more insightful writings about parenting.
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