Five Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Children
If you’re a parent, chances are you’re working more hours than you’d like, and you’re feeling a little guilty about the limited time you get to spend with your children. Perhaps you’ve missed a few too many evening sporting events or school activities. I’ve been there, so I can identify with how you’re feeling. One thing I’ve learned is that if the quantity of time you get to spend with your children is sometimes limited, you can make up for it with quality time.
When your children are older they’re not going to remember that you missed four of the 12 basketball games they had when they were in the 5th grade. What they will remember are the little, everyday things you did with them. It’s the little things, done consistently, that pack a big punch.
Here are five things you can begin doing with your children on a daily basis that will not only be high in quality, but will also teach them how to be wonderful and loving adults one day. After all, our children learn just about everything from us.
- Get Home Early: I listed this as number one because it is the most important. It is also the hardest. Our jobs demand more from us these days and our families suffer because of it. I don’t care how you do it, but make it a priority to try your hardest to get home at a reasonable hour during the week. Many of my friends and associates don’t see their children at all Monday through Friday because they don’t get home until 9:00 PM or later when their children are already sleeping. Yes their jobs are demanding, and their bosses need them, but I promise they will have regrets later because their children need them more. If you fit into this category, try to make an effort at least one day a week to get home relatively early. It’s a start.
- Tuck them in to bed at night: Make this ritual—every night. I do, and my kids love it. I am a big fan of tucking the little ones in, lying in their bed with them and having some hugging and snuggling time. This physical closeness teaches them how to connect with their powerful, emotional side. Our children will learn how to feel and be loved. Out of everything we teach our kids, this might be the most important. If you don’t get home from work until after they have already fallen asleep, it’s OK to wake them from their grogginess and give them a kiss good night. Don’t worry, kids are resilient and will fall right back to sleep.
- Enter their world: There’s a good chance that when the weekend arrives you want to relax, read the paper and do your own thing, as you should. However, it is important to your children that you participate in some of the things that they like to do. Sure you might not like the idea of playing with dolls or shooting the basketball around when it’s 30 degrees outside, but your kids sure will. I’m not saying that you should participate with them in every one of their activities, just some. They need independence too. What I’m saying is that if you show a vested interest in what your children are interested in, they will feel proud and noticed.
- Have dinner with your children every night: A couple of years ago I hosted a television pilot for Food Network called, “Can Dinner Save My Family?” Boy, would it have been great if Food Network picked up the series, because the traditional family dinner is slipping away and our children are suffering because of it. All of the statistics show that families who have sit-down dinners together most nights of the week are far more likely to be stable. When I say “sit-down” dinner, I’m talking about eating and talking to one another without any electronic devices included, just good-old fashioned family dinner. Research has found that teens that have two or fewer family dinners per week are twice as likely to smoke daily and get drunk monthly compared to teens who have 5 family dinners per week.
- Watch Television Together: OK, if you know me and a lot of what I write about and lecture about, you know that I’m pretty much anti-technology. But one thing that my wife and I and our two children do together several nights a week is lay down in my bed and watch a show on The Discovery Channel or maybe America’s Funniest Home Videos — something that is either educational or fun. We do this for about a half an hour right before my kids go to bed and it is only allowed if my kids have completed their homework, taken a shower and brushed their teeth. It really is great family bonding time as we’re all cozied up together and laughing together. We learn together and we love together.