We all want our kids to like us, right? But the truth is the parent child relationship is about so much more than our kids just liking us. It’s also about more than discipline. Parent child relationships are complicated. Let’s dive in and talk about how we nurture these important relationships in our home.
Kids need structure. They need parents to set boundaries. They need natural consequences when they make bad choices. I believe it makes them feel safe and loved, even if they don’t like those darn consequences.
I think that sometimes, in wanting our kids to “like” us, we think have to forego those things when really that’s what helps build relationships.
Questions about the Parent Child Relationships
I’ve received quite a few questions on this topic and I LOVE questions like this because it helps remind me what has worked and what I still need to work on.
How do you ensure that your kids like YOU? I am feeling so bad because my kids told me that I’m a grouchy mom and they don’t like me. (they are 6 and 4). Seriously broke my heart especially because I’m doing my best!
How do you have and maintain such an amazing and close relationship with your daughters?
My mother and I were never close when I was a child and into teenage years. We are closer now as I have grown up and gotten married but still, we’ve never had the close mother-daughter bond. I now have a daughter and she is 1.5 years old. I was very nervous when we found out we were having a girl because I didn’t want to repeat a negative parent child relationship.
Do you have any advice on what you do daily, or monthly or randomly to make sure you have such great bonds with your children? Where they can and want to come and talk to you and tell you about their day.
Any advice or even if you can give me links to prior posts you have done would be great.
As always, such great questions!
Nurture the Parent Child Relationship
I am continually working on my relationships with my kids. They are a work in progress. Each child is so very different. Some are so much like me, some are so different! And every stage is different too. But here are some basic things that I’ve noticed make us feel closer around here.
Find time to really BE with your kids and focus on them.
Whether it’s taking them on an individual date or using drive time to have a real conversation. Be with your kids. Letting your mind quiet down opens your heart. And that’s the best gift we can give our kids. What in the world could be more important than being with that child right then? Engage them; reach into their hearts with questions. There are so many things to find out about kids.
I have to re-learn that every single day, so don’t go thinking I’m an expert. I just know it changes my whole perspective and my whole happiness when I don’t let dumb little things get in the way of those relationships.
Put down your phone. Turn off all electronics.
Yes, TURN IT ALL OFF. Technology hinders relationships. A lot. I have an epiphany every now and then when I’m sitting on my computer or on my phone and realize I have a child sitting next to me. I swear this is the hardest one for me lately. There are so many things to keep track of on that little device. Who’s driving which carpool, emails about everything under the sun, social media itching to be scrolled through, weather broadcasts, news, even my scriptures pull me into that thing. I’ve been doing a lot of listening to scriptures these days. All good and fine things for sure, but they can sure suck you in and make you lose balance. And make you forget to look into childrens’ eyes.
Sometimes I will put Lucy to bed while distracted on my phone. She’s at an age where she’s still telling me so much, and sometimes it’s so easy to tune that out. There is such a dramatic difference when my phone is no where close and I am zoned in to what that girl is doing and saying. I loved that the other night she took my phone right out of my hands while I was checking Instagram in the backyard waiting for Bo to do her business and asked if we could read together.
So we did.
And it was the best Narnia night.
We haven’t been reading together lately because she gets fed up with waiting for me…and she is SO into reading which I love. But I realized once again, snuggled up in her bed with her, my phone in another bedroom, that that darn little device can take away from our relationship.
Pray intentionally and specifically for that child.
You will get nudges on what to do and how to do it. I have noticed this as my kids have grown and the problems and issues get bigger and more complicated. I don’t necessarily get the nudges as I pray, but praying helps me get in mind more what is needed, and I want to work WITH them to get through all this and I have felt “guided” (my “one-word” for 2017) numerous times on how to relate in a different way.
Have Family Home Evening and family dinners.
Creating specific time for family works wonders for parent child relationships as well! This is a game-changer in this fast-paced world of ours. I love that our church encourages us to set aside one night each week to be family time (family home evening). It is not easy these days to carve out that time to be together. Last year Dave had to put his foot down on an extra class Claire was begging to take on Monday night. But I am so grateful to have time to just be together.
As far as dinners go, I love that when we sit down together we talk about our “happies and sads” (highs and lows) for the day. There is nothing like having built in time to remember to talk about things. Last night, for instance, we all discussed whether Claire should try-out for the junior high fall sports (soccer or volleyball), Lucy explained how it all worked when I came into her class to talk about BBS that afternoon (more on that soon), we talked about how we only have Elle for a little over one more week here and what we want to do to soak her in, we checked in on jobs.
Conduct Monthly Interviews
Whether it’s the first Sunday of the month or casually at a little lunch date. We’ve been bad with the Sunday interviews, but I still try to do lunch dates with each kid every month. Ask questions. Listen to answers. I always ask what they’re most worried about and what they’re most excited about to get started. Keep a big black book with their answers from over the years (more on interviews and that black book. Kind of fun to go back and read those things as kids grow.
Give hugs! They need them and so do we. Snuggle up in bed with them to wake them up in the morning. Make up a handshake with little kids. Put your arm around them when you’re talking to them. There’s something about physical touch that brings closeness and love in my opinion. This is one of the easiest ways to nurture a parent child relationship. If it’s awkward, start with a pat on the back or an arm around the shoulder and work your way up to a hug!
Create a Safe Space for One-on-One Interaction
Figure out how they will open up more. I remember noticing that Max somehow opened up more when we were driving in the car, looking straight ahead rather than looking at each other. I love cooking together because we are all in the kitchen in close proximity, and things come up. I love late-nights, because it seems that’s when kids open up the most. I love one-on-one dates.
Work on yourself, as the parent
If you are more approachable and available to your kids, they will naturally want to be with you and open up to you more. Here are a few things you can work on.
Creating Good Routines
Routines can make or break you. Set up routines that allow you to be present and be consistent with your kids. That way you’ll have more positive interactions which will inevitably lead to a positive parent child relationship. Make sure part of your routine includes taking the time each day to refresh your own mind and spirit so that you have the space for your kids.
Develop Thick Skin
Take the negative things that kids say with a grain of salt. Most of the time, they are just trying to get a reaction without even realizing what they are doing. You just need to be a “durable object” and practice the “love and logic” method where if someone says “I don’t like you! You’re grouchy!” you say, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that you think that way,” and move on.
If they realize they won’t get a rise out of you by telling you things like they don’t like you then they’ll stop. I promise.
Of course they love you, you’re their mother. Kids just get confused sometimes.
Make them take a hugging picture with you and they’ll laugh and remember, “oh yeah, I like that lady.” Ha!
Oh and one more thing. Have fun. Life doesn’t always have to be so serious. Sometimes I’m guilty of forgetting that along with all the other important stuff I’m saying here. Joking, laughing and playing together creates core memories that help strengthen the parent child relationship.
Relationships are a constant work in progress. In answer to the mother who asked this question: you will have a great relationship with that daughter of yours because you are intentional about it and you are seeking it. That makes all the difference.