There is no doubt about it: being a parent is a hard job. Sometimes, no matter how much you try, it feels like you cannot win. From differing opinions to misunderstandings and emotional struggles, parenting can seem like a rollercoaster without a track. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. The truth is, many people question how to improve parent-child relationships.
The connection that you have with your child has an enormous impact on everything else about your role as a parent. Strengthening a parent-child relationship is not always easy though. For many, finding ways to bond with children is challenging. Generational gaps, among other differences, can make doing so even more difficult for some families. These six tips can help.
1. Play Together
Sometimes, it can be easy for adults to forget what it was like to be a kid. Think back to when you were young and how it felt when you were finally released from class for recess or you got the chance to ride your bike with friends on a sunny day. When it comes to learning and bonding, playing with your children is one of the best ways to do it. Whether you draw pictures, play dress up or build Lego spaceships together, the most important thing is that you are spending time together playing.
2. Listen and Empathise
Another big factor for strengthening your relationship with your children is your ability to listen and empathise with your son or daughter. While children are younger than adults, they are still humans, and the experiences that they have are real. When your child expresses doubt, anger or fear, offer him or her your ear, and validate his or her emotions. If you can remember being in a similar situation, share that. One of the best ways to build trust with your child is by reminding him or her that you are human, and you too, experience difficulties.
3. Set Boundaries
For any healthy parent-child relationship to exist, parents must set boundaries. While it may sometimes be tempting to just give in or let things go, setting clear boundaries (and sticking to them) will help children learn expectations for behaviour. At the end of the day, boundaries are what determines how people treat you, and by establishing boundaries with children, parents can clarify what kind of treatment they will and will not tolerate.
4. Respect Choices
As times have changed, parent-child relationships have changed too. One reason for significant conflict in many families is a difference in values or life choices. At a certain point, children reach an age where they begin observing and understanding the world through their own lens. While parents can play a meaningful role in the development of a child’s perspective, the experience of living their life is their own. When parents make a clear effort to respect their children’s choices and accept them for who they are, it can be another powerful way to build trust and respect.
5. Talk About Difficult Topics
Ultimately, what makes a good parent-child relationship comes down to multiple factors, but one more big thing that can help bring you closer to your son or daughter is talking to him or her about difficult topics. While there are many things that parents often consider “too adult” for children to hear about, this may be the wrong approach. Again, children are people. While they are less experienced with the world, they are no less susceptible to its unexpected difficulties. Talking about real issues can help prepare them for life. Who better to learn it from than you?
6. Cook and Share Meals
Since ancient times, nothing has brought people together like food. Regardless of your kitchen skills, spending time preparing and sharing meals together can be a fun and low-pressure way for children to interact with their parents. If you are new to cooking, try making soup, pizza or a cake. Even if it does not turn out well, the experience is what it is all about. Plus, this can be a great option for individuals who sometimes struggle to find the right words during more formal conversations.
Although parenting is difficult, it is far from impossible. Even if you feel discouraged, there are many ways to improve your relationship with your child. We may make mistakes and have hurdles along the journey. Whilst these tips can offer guidance, it is important to remember that there are always support networks that we can access to help guide us through the process.