Great Relationships, Great Kids (Part 2) Four Relationship-Building Ideas
In part 1 of this blog series, I mentioned that the single greatest influence on your children is their relationships. I would venture that the quality of their relationships will determine how well they will turn out! Our goal as parents is to be their most important relationship (after God), but it takes work and commitment on your part.
Here are four relationship-building ideas to help you build a good relationship with your kids. When applied, these ideas have proven to build great, tight-knit families.
Do fun things as a family weekly, quarterly, and yearly. Do fun activities together so that there is a huge pile of good memories that your children have of hanging out with you and their siblings. Go on weekly or monthly dates with your children, take regular vacations with interesting things to do and see, and make sure that you take lots of pictures of them having fun and enjoying their sisters and brothers. These pictures are important because they will convince your kids that you are a fun family. Without the pictures they can easily convince themselves that your family is boring, that you never do anything fun, and doesn't really care about them. Yes, this will take planning and money, but it is well worth it. Ask your spouse and your kids what family vacations they want to take this year. There answers will surprise you! Buy books with all the local museums and tourist attractions within five hours of your home. Creating enjoyable family time is hard work, but it is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
Let your children talk without your constant correction. As your children grow up they need to be able to express themselves to you. What they say may be wrong or inaccurate because of their limited viewpoint, but it is from their perspective, which is valid. It is important that you listen with rapt attention, letting them get it all out before you correct the inaccuracies and problems. Talking is the way we communicate who we are, and listening is the way that people let us know that they love us and are our friends. If a child never is able to express themselves to their parents without interruption and correction, the child rightly concludes that you don't love them and are not a safe person. This is especially true in the teen years. If you want to be a part of their world as they grow toward maturing and independence, you must listen as they work through various ideas and thoughts. When the children are in their teen years, stop making statements and start asking questions.
Schedule time to talk with your kids when they want to talk. This is usually late at night, which allows them to stay up later. If that is when they will let down their defenses and really talk with you, then stay up late and talk with them. Many times, however, parents want to have their children bare their souls when it is convenient for them, and while in the midst of other duties and siblings overhearing. Children will rarely do this. I have found that if a parent approaches their children in a private place and gently asks questions about how their doing and what they may be struggling with, the child will open up and start talking. This safe time is often late at night after they have been put to bed. It will mean that you miss a favorite show or some other pursuit but this is so valuable and soul filling that you must tear yourself away from the trivial for this important work.
Make sure that they get more respect, praise, and appreciation from you than from anyone else. All of us are like flowers turning toward the sun. We all naturally move in the direction of those who respect, praise, and encourage us. Your children are no different. They will count as friends people that overlook their flaws and failings and trumpet their strengths and victories. If the people that do that are immoral people, then your child will have immoral friends. This is a truth: We all need people to praise us, cheer for us, and value us. We will move toward whoever does that the most. That's why it is important that the most praise, encouragement, and value come from a child's parents or else they will move away from you and toward whoever gives it to them.
It is very easy in the parenting process to keep pointing out to your children their failings and weaknesses and difficulties. While it is important to help children grow to maturity, correct mistakes, and become well rounded, it is more important that they be celebrated for their unique contributions, talents, and strengths. Parents largely determine how close their children are to them by the level of appreciation, praise, and encouragement that they give their children. All of us need this and children need it more. If you want to start drawing your children towards you so that they will listen to your advice and direction, then make sure that they receive more praise and encouragement from you than from anyone else in their life.
Next week, I will lay out some ideas about guarding outside influences and relationships for your kids. I hope you find this helpful for learning how to build great relationships with your kids, and I encourage you to forward it on to other parents who would benefit from this series. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how you are doing and how God is working in and through your life.
In His service,
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