We are all products of our enviroment. However, no matter how you were raised you can make a conscience decision to raise your children well. Raising well-rounded, happy children takes time and effort. Here are ten tips to help build and encourage a strong bond between you and your children.
1) Take time to listen. As parents we have a tendacy to react quickly to a situation or conversation with our children, before hearing them out. Next time your son or daughter sits down to chat with you, hear him or her out. No matter what the situation, take a deep breath and then respond. Overreacting or screaming and shouting won’t solve any issues. Your children need to know that no matter what kind of trouble they get into they can rely on you.
2) Spend quality time with each child. You can’t build or strengthen a bond with your children if you never spend time with them. Everyday you need to know how their day went and don’t accept, “Fine” as an answer. Find out if there is anything new with their friends and ask them how they are doing in their classes. Once a week or at least once a month spend a few hours alone with each child. Do something that they would like to do or go out for a nice dinner. These “date nights” will be fond memories for a lifetime.
3) Spend quality time as a family. Even now as an adult some of my favorite memories are from our family game nights. Every month we would sit around our kitchen table with a few friends and play board games. Take an evening, invite some friends, and try the game Apples to Apples. Your whole family will have a blast. Your children won’t even realize that your building family bonds.
4) Be physical. Let them say yuck and roll their eyes, but don’t let them go a day without a hug from you. A great time to give a hug without embarassing your child in front of his/her friends is at bed time. No matter how old your children are I can assure you that they would love to receive a hug from their Mom and Dad.
5) Know where they are and what they are doing. Long before cell phones I grew up with a Mom who always knew where I was. I tried a few times to mislead her, but somehow she always knew or soon found out. Make it a house rule that your children have to leave notes or voicemail to let you know if their plans have changed. No matter how much they accuse you of being overbearing, you need to know where they are and who they are with.
6) Know who their friends are. The wrong group of friends can take your child down a dangerous road. Keep up with who their friends are and what their friends are up to. As a loving, caring parent you are the first line of defense for your children and a second line of defense for your childrens friends. The bonds that you built on your date night and around the table playing games will also help you to see warning signs long before most parents would notice anything!
7) Don’t be afraid to discipline. Children need boundaries and when those boundaries are broken there has to be consequences. You have to teach your children responsibility. They need to learn that if they make a bad decision they will have to deal with the consequences of that decision. Limit their activities, restrict phone and computer use, or give them additional chores.
8) Give them a curfew. The city we live in has a 11pm curfew for anyone under eighteen. Growing up I knew that the curfew time was non-negotiable. We were taught to obey the law and this was a law. Whether your city has a curfew ordinance or not your children should still have a reasonable curfew. If they want to stay up into the wee hours of the morning they can do that at home or at a friends house with parental suprevision.
9) Teach them the value of work. It amazes me how many parents do not give their children chores around the house. The easiest way to teach your child how to keep a house clean or how to do yardwork is by you teaching them. To be a responsible adult they will need to be able to take care of themselves. Chores not only teach responsibility, but they teach the value of work. If they don’t work they don’t get paid. If they don’t have money to go out with their friends, oh well they should have thought about that before refusing or forgetting to do their chores.
Chores will teach your children to be better employees. In my younger years I was a shift manager at a few different fast food places. Every few months a teenager would be hired into their first job. Nine times out of ten I had to show these teenagers who were just two or three years younger than me how to sweep, mop, or wash dishes. The first time an employee told me they didn’t know how to sweep I thought she was kidding. Her parents had never made her pick up a broom. Needless to say she was so ill equipped for the job that she lasted less than two weeks! I thank my parents often for teaching me the value of work and friendliness.
10) Be a parent, not a friend. So many parents try to be a friend first to their children and end up being manipulated. Your children don’t need more friends, they need parents that will lead and guide them through the trials and triumphs. As a parent your children will sometimes hate you and scream at you, but you are the adult. You must do what is best for them no matter how hard they fight against your wishes. One day they will understand and appreciate everything you did for them.