Parenting relationships are hard emotionally, and I think the key ingredient in parenting relationships is for the parent to manage their emotions, so that parenting is done from a system rather than an emotion.
I have never loved like I love my kids, and I have never been angry like I can get angry at my kids, and teaching them over and over about important tasks like cleaning up the snack debris and the bedroom and bathroom debris and the fire pit debris and keeping them safe, those tasks demand energy and discipline and I fear that when I teach them sternly, they will withdraw their love.
For example, we got my daughter a trampoline for her 5th birthday, and she and her almost 11 year old brother have been playing on it occasionally, and one of the neighbors stopped by recently to let us know that one of my son's friends and my son had been tormenting her in tandem one day, when they were all on the trampoline, with some very cruel name calling, so cruel that Bill said it bordered on abuse, and he wanted us to know.
I was really shocked that Shane could do that, and really shocked that he allowed Brandon, who is almost 11 also, to participate.
It is a clear case of bullying, and a clear case of abuse of power, and I found it disturbing, and I let him know that I was very upset about it.
So he talked to his mom, and attempted to make the confrontation my fault, and she would not let him off the hook, thank the good Lord.
Those kinds of interactions around those kinds of behaviors, a little more than Kiddie Crimes, are very hard on parenting relationships.
I know when those things happen I feel fear, and the thoughts are worrisome for me, because I am always looking for trends about how he is doing.
This is the same kid who loves baseball and improved his game about 100% from last year to this year, who is doing above avg. with his grades, who is for the most part very adept at friendships.
This is the kid who looks at me with love and asks for time, and occasionally asks for my insights, and this is the kid who does see the need to spend time developing his intellect.
His school work is done as fast as he can get it done and is usually sloppy, and he is developing the ability to dodge my pointed questions.
So how do I balance our relationship so that he knows he is loved and valued, and that I will play and joke, but that I will also be Dad, the rule maker and boundary keeper, and punisher if need be.
Sometimes I need to put aside the fear that he will not love me, and just do the right thing, keep the boundary, in hopes that we can talk later about what just happened.
I believe that the most important thing I can do as a parent is to manage the level of intensity I bring to my conversation with my son.
The best tools for that are cognitive and physiological.
I need to remember what I want to teach, and if my emotion is too intense, I will be teaching fear rather than choices and consequences.
The best tool for regulating emotions, and the least expensive, is deep breathing, and with all of my experience with prayer and meditation, I still find myself breathing very shallow in my chest, and actually keeping an adrenalin and cortisol based physiology going on, but I can change that to something much more pleasant by simply taking a few deep breaths, or using HeartMath which is a profoundly useful tool for parenting relationships, and brain fitness, something I want my kids to have lots of.
HeartMath, or heart rate variability biofeedback, is based on a new field of study called neurocardiology, or the study of the heart's own nervous system.
Long story short, I and my heart can learn to work very closely together, heart beat by heart beat, and my heart intelligence is cooperative and affiliative, and if I create my HeartMath physiology before and during parenting, then I will be much more effective at delivering information to my children about consequences to their choices, rather than fear of getting caught and Dad.
I have been using HeartMath personally and teaching it professionally for about 8 years, and I love it.
I can manage my internal physiology and feel good heart beat by heart beat, and I and my family can literally get on the same heart beat, and attend to the family heart beat.
Is this HeartMath hard to learn? No.
Does HeartMath have benefits for my health, and my brain fitness?
Can HeartMath make a difference for my children's tests at school?
You can find a link to Heartmath in the right column.
Just like with any relationship, building a positive relationship between parent and child is one that requires work and effort to make it strong and successful. Parenting is a tough job, and maintaining close relationships and open communications helps to ensure parents and their children stay connected through all ages of their upbringing. Here are 10 simple tips for enhancing the bond between parent and child.
1. Say I Love You
Tell your child you love him every day -- no matter his age. Even on trying days or after a parent-child disagreement, when you don't exactly "like your child" at that moment, it is more important than ever to express your love. A simple "I love you" goes a long way toward developing and then strengthening a relationship.
2. Teach Your Faith Teach your child about your faith and beliefs. Tell him what you believe and why. Allow time for your child to ask questions and answer them honestly. Reinforce those teachings often. 3. Establish A Special Name Or Code Word Create a special name for your child that is positive and special or a secret code word that you can use between each other. Use the name as a simple reinforcement of your love. The code word can be established to have special meaning between your child and you that only you two understand. This code word can even be used to extract a child from an uncomfortable situation (such as a sleepover that is not going well) without causing undue embarrassment to the child. 4. Develop And Maintain A Special Bedtime Ritual For younger children, reading a favorite bedtime book or telling stories is a ritual that will be remembered most likely throughout their life. Older children should not be neglected either. Once children start reading, have them read a page, chapter, or short book to you. Even most teenagers still enjoy the ritual of being told goodnight in a special way by a parent--even if they don't act like it! 5. Let Your Children Help You Parents sometimes inadvertently miss out on opportunities to forge closer relationships by not allowing their child to help them with various tasks and chores. Unloading groceries after going to the store is a good example of something that children of most ages can and should assist with. Choosing which shoes look better with your dress lets a child know you value her opinion. Of course, if you ask, be prepared to accept and live with the choice made! 6. Play With Your Children The key is to really play with your children. Play with dolls, ball, make believe, checkers, sing songs, or whatever is fun and interesting. It doesn't matter what you play, just enjoy each other! Let kids see your silly side. Older kids enjoy cards, chess, computer games, while younger ones will have fun playing about anything...as long as it involves you! 7. Eat Meals As A Family You've heard this before, and it really is important! Eating together sets the stage for conversation and sharing. Turn the TV off, and don't rush through a meal. When schedules permit, really talk and enjoy one another. It can become a quality time most remembered by young and old alike. 8. Seek Out One-On-One Opportunities Often Some parents have special nights or "standing dates" with their children to create that one-on-one opportunity. Whether it is a walk around the neighborhood, a special trip to a playground, or just a movie night with just the two of you, it is important to celebrate each child individually. Although it is more of a challenge the more children in a family, it is really achievable! Think creatively and the opportunities created will be ones that you remember in the future. 9. Respect Their Choices You don't have to like their mismatched shirt and shorts or love how a child has placed pictures in his room. However, it is important to respect those choices. Children reach out for independence at a young age, and parents can help to foster those decision-making skills by being supportive and even looking the other way on occasion. After all, it really is okay if a child goes to daycare with a striped green shirt and pink shorts. 10. Make Them A Priority In Your Life Your children need to know that you believe they are a priority in your life. Children can observe excessive stress and notice when they feel you are not paying them attention. Sometimes, part of being a parent is not worrying about the small stuff and enjoying your children. They grow up so fast, and every day is special. Take advantage of your precious time together while you have it! Related Guide Picks
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Very early in my personal growth experience, a wise person taught me to use the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was resentful or afraid and that phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
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