Positive Relationship Characteristics
Recently I asked for some ideas for a title for my new parenting course. This week I thought I’d share an excerpt from it, specifically from:
MODULE 6. VIDEO 2: Positive Relationship Characteristics
Provide Unconditional Love. The most powerful characteristic of a positive Parent-Child Relationship is Unconditional Love. That means you love your child – no matter what. More importantly, your child believes that your love is unconditional, that you love them, no matter what, even when
- they misbehave
- or break the rules
- or get low grades
You even love them when they say they hate you. None of that affects your love for them, no matter what.
Your unconditional love makes your precious children feel safe and secure. It makes them braver, and more willing to explore and take risks. It’s the biggest gift we can give them. Plus, the more we remind them they’re loved unconditionally, the better equipped they are to handle adversity.
Spend Quality Time With Your Kids. All that unconditional love loses its punch if you don’t share time together.
Quality time, like kids, comes in all shapes and sizes.
- It can be the big grand gestures, like a trip to a carnival, or a butterfly farm.
- It’s sharing a blanket on the couch while you read.
- It’s private time behind a closed door where secrets are shared with parents.
- It’s you showing up at the game, or performance, with your cell phone on airplane mode.
- It’s that meal you cook together, and that laundry you fold to dancing music, and that fort you construct in the living room.
It’s the things that become memorable for your kids, and why they love their family culture and traditions. It’s the way you show them they matter without using words.
Keep Your Promises. If you say you’re going to be there, BE THERE. Your absence hurts their hearts. If your outside obligations potentially will interfere, tell your child you probably can’t make it to his recital, and the reason. Then show up if you can, and turn it into a big surprise.
Or, if you can’t make it, watch a recording of it with your child, along with some homemade popcorn, plus your entire focused attention. Even if you’re out of town, you can video chat and watch the performance together. That extra effort will convey how important your child is to you. How you show up will affect how they will show up in the world.
Keep Consistent Rules. EVERYONE lives by a set of rules. The key is to be consistent in enforcing your rules, and be consistent with the consequences when broken.
It’s vital that our children learn to live by your rules at home. Otherwise, they won’t be able to function properly within the classroom, or out in society when they become adults.
Rules are clear statements about how your family takes care of one another, and how they treat each other. Kids should understand the consequences to their actions before they act. Rules create a stable world for your child. That stability teaches them to trust their expectations about you…and how you’re going to treat them.
Some rules can be negotiated as your kids get older, but some rules absolutely should not be negotiated, ever:
- Their safety, including driving, dating and curfew
- Their education, such as homework, scheduling study time for exams… things like that.
- Their health, like nutrition, alcohol, sex, drugs
- Anything to do with becoming an adult
I call these the Non-Negotiables. These are the things your kids can’t judge for themselves. Their undeveloped brains can’t see the big picture. Of course you have to revisit these rules from time to time as your kids mature, and adjust them accordingly…but plan for it. Otherwise, you’ll be unprepared when your kids come up with some new request. After all, you don’t want your mouth hanging open when they come begging to go to an unsupervised party.
Make Your Kids Feel Safe. Your kids watch you all the time. They hear your arguments behind closed doors. They see your anxiety as you watch the news. Their young friends feed them a steady diet of their immature view of world events. They privately try to understand what all this input means, and their imagination takes them… who knows where? But wherever that is, it doesn’t feel safe.
You can help them by addressing their anxiety. Sit them down individually, and ask them what they think about the current world situation, or the country’s situation, or the latest news story. If you’re not comfortable about that, ask them what their friends, or teachers, or coaches think about it. Sometimes it’s easier to go in the side door, than to broach a subject head-on.
Don’t offer advice.
Say things like, “Interesting.” “Hmmm.” “I understand.” If you want insight as to what may be causing your child’s anxiety, this is a way to do it.
Then you reassure them. Say something like this…
“Sometimes I hear things that make me worried, but that just lets me know something needs handling. I got this. Your job is to be a kid and grow up strong and happy. I’ll take care of the rest. And, if I don’t know how to take care of something, I’ll find someone who does. You don’t have to worry. I got your back. Even if the next school year is screwy, I’ll figure out how to make it work for you. You and me, we’re a team. I got your back. You don’t have to worry.”
Then, repeat that message every time your child is stressed, or at least once a week. They always need reminders.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my upcoming parenting course. Feel free to share this excerpt with other parents. Any and all feedback is welcome. The course should be out sometime this fall.
You got this!