11/6/08

Boomers, How to Remain Close With the Kids

. 11/6/08

One of the most important relationships you’ll ever have is with your children. Now that they’re older, with their own lives and interests apart from you, how can you keep the relationship and bond strong and healthy?
Here are several effective principles that will enhance your relationship and keep you close:
1. Be willing to listen first, and then offer opinions, rather than turning the dialogue into a lecture. Anybody will shut down if what you say sounds like a sermon. Therefore, be a good listener, using reflective listening skills. You may say something like, “I understand what you’re saying. You feel… However, I would like to assure you that…”

2. Improve your understanding by using good body language.
Be sure that your facial expression and words are in alignment because body language reveals an overall emotional tone.

3. Encourage a free expression of feelings, thoughts and ideas. This would keep the conversation open and maintain an awareness of the child’s perspective.

4. Allow “special together time”. In other words, save time in your day or week to go shopping with your 12 year old, a movie with your 15 year old or out to dinner with your 22 year old. Be generous with your love, hugs and complements. This encourages a sense of trust and closeness, which is essential for security and well-being.

5. Be empathetic. By putting yourself in your teen’s or young adult’s shoes you begin to remember what it was like to be that age—what you were afraid of, what your most important concerns were, what you needed from others. Remember that all feelings they experience are real.

6. Practice being a good role model. Therefore, express the traits you want your children to copy, such as respect, fairness, friendliness, honesty, kindness and tolerance of others. How you handle your anger, for instance, is the behavior you pass on to your children. If you don’t like what you see, take a look at yourself.

7. Be a strong support system for your children. As a support, you are available when they need to talk. You are there to help and encourage them. Seize every available moment to make a connection. Help your children identify other supportive people in their lives with whom they can also talk/

8. Make flexibility a priority. Try not to base your expectations on “shoulds”. Every child is different and his/her response to a situation will be unique. For instance, you’re getting a divorce after 30 years of marriage. Some children will react with anger, sadness, or guilt. Others will react with complete silence. Adjust your handling of each child according to the personality and needs of the individual.
Understand that you have an enormous responsibility with parenting, but be patient and tolerant. In addition, be aware of your own needs and limitations. You have strengths and weaknesses and with an awareness of both, you can be kinder and gentler with yourself. If you take care of yourself and your own well-being, you are modeling an important value for your children, as well.

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