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6 Ways To Maintain Closeness With Your Children

6 Ways to Maintain Closeness with Your Children

Parenting is probably one of the most joyfully, terrifying, magically frustrating ventures I have ever endured. It is surely not for the weak-hearted. I remember when my husband and I brought our oldest daughter home from the hospital, we sat her in her little Moses basket and stared at her out of fear and shock. We were more afraid of her than she probably was of us. We could not believe someone allowed us to have a baby. Looking at her was an extremely humbling experience, and it is one that I hope never to forget. Nevertheless, from that moment onward, I wondered about all kinds of things regarding parenting, but mostly I wondered about how we would forge and maintain a bond. There are many books about how to handle the Terrible Twos, what milestones your child must meet, the kind of knowledge your child should know before beginning primary school, and other important topics. However, material about maintaining a bond from birth until at least the age of 18 is sparse at best and, at worst, almost non-existent.

Parenting is probably one of the most joyfully, terrifying, magically frustrating ventures I have ever endured. It is surely not for the weak-hearted. I remember when my husband and I brought our oldest daughter home from the hospital, we sat her in her little Moses basket and stared at her out of fear and shock. We were more afraid of her than she probably was of us. We could not believe someone allowed us to have a baby. Looking at her was an extremely humbling experience, and it is one that I hope never to forget. Nevertheless, from that moment onward, I wondered about all kinds of things regarding parenting, but mostly I wondered about how we would forge and maintain a bond. There are many books about how to handle the Terrible Twos, what milestones your child must meet, the kind of knowledge your child should know before beginning primary school, and other important topics. However, material about maintaining a bond from birth until at least the age of 18 is sparse at best and, at worst, almost non-existent…

 

 

Continued…

 I have spent every year since becoming a therapist with a Master’s of Arts in Marriage and Family trying to answer this question. Yet, it is not as difficult as one would think. Although there are plenty of bumpy spots and tense moments, there is one thing that children at every stage need the most. Your time. Yes, they need your love, but what is love without time? Have you ever experienced someone tells you that they love you and then rush off into the other direction—all the time? Sure, they need clothes, shoes, and food, but haven’t you met people who have it all but don’t seem to take enough time to enjoy it all? A child’s love language is the time because nothing reassures, reminds, and renews a love-filled relationship like time. There are all kinds of ways to spend time with your child. Here are six ways to use your time together to establish, maintain, and nurture that special bond you two have had since conception.

Listen Without Judgment: Although this bit of wisdom might definitely apply to an older child, you would be surprised how many small children withhold their true feelings about a topic because they do not want to hurt their parents’ feelings or make them mad or frustrated. Sometimes children worry about disappointing a parent. In a child’s mind, any of these negative feelings could lead to being seen as unlovable and equates to death and nonexistence for a child. Children want to talk to us all the time about everything. Having to censor themselves is too much of a burden for a child to bear. Learn to listen and enjoy the fact that your child feels comfortable sharing what is in their heart with you.

Spend Time Doing What Your Child Likes To Do: I remember a dad once told me that the only time his father spent time with him was when he took him fishing. “What was wrong with fishing,” I asked. Nothing except that this dad, as a child, hated fishing. His father often sat in silence and said nothing to him. This dad grew up to hate fishing. When his own son showed interest in it, it was challenging for him to even think about returning to this hated time. In this unfortunate story, three generations were negatively impacted because of it. We only get so much time here on earth with our children. There is no better way to know your child than to spend time in your child’s world, doing what he or she likes to do. Seeing the world through your child’s eyes can renew your own view of the world. In spending time with your child, you can also witness milestones and weaknesses and make many fun memories. Your child will never forget what you looked like when you pretended to jump over a troll bridge and will appreciate the fort you two built to hide from a giant.

Plan A Special Outing With Just That Child: Children have to compete with so many things within our adult world. They must compete with our jobs, our spouses, our egos, but most of all, they must compete with their other siblings. Every child wishes that they could have their mother and father all to themselves with no interruptions. Taking a child to their favorite place or surprising a child on a day in which they get to choose where to go and what to do is a simple way to make a child’s dream come true. One of the best messages we could ever give our child is one in which we confirm that they are worthy of having us all to themselves. Your other children will probably be extremely jealous until they discover that they will receive their very own special day and/or time as well.

Tell Your Child You Love Him/Her: Sometimes, it is better  tokeep it simple. Go straight to your child and get on their level. This may mean kneeling, sitting, or doing whatever must be done so that you can be eye level with your child. Tell them that you love them. For a very young child, they may wonder and ask why you love them. Refrain from providing an abstract evaluation such as “I love you because you’re a good boy.” Be more concrete. Instead, say, “I love you because you are thoughtful, kind, and patient,” or simply, “I love you because you’re my child, and I am so happy about that.”

Keep A Promise and/or Follow Through: One of the worst things you may have to do is tell a child that, unfortunately, they will not get to go to a place, play with a friend, or receive a special toy as promised. Children understand disappointment even though they may not like it. However, following through more times than not on something that was promised or previously confirmed helps your child to know that they can depend on you and trust you at your word. Moreover, if you have promised that your child will receive consequences for misbehavior, following through will send the message to your child that you mean what you say when you say it.

Establish and Maintain Routines and Consistency: Life can be very uncertain, especially for a child. Establishing a routine and remaining consistent can help your child to feel secure when other areas of your child’s life might depart from normalcy from time to time. Establishing and maintaining routines can help provide your child with life skills they will utilize as adults. From this, you will teach them about creating and keeping a schedule, learning time management, and understanding the sequence of events.

By Martina Watson, LPC

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