Anybody else thought that parenting would get easier after those toddler antics? Well I was wrong. It’s just as challenging, if not more so. It’s Katie. I have 3 kids ranging from 11 (going on 12) down to 4 (almost 5). I’m not a parenting “expert” but I feel like my kids and I have pretty good relationships. At least I hope so.
Here are a few methods I’ve found help to open the lines of communication with my kids.
1. Mother-Child Lunch Or Father-Child Lunch- No siblings, no timeline, and we sit down to eat. I took my daughter out to lunch over Christmas break, just the two of us. And we had a really great time together. It was fun to have a relaxing lunch with good conversation. Nothing like bonding over food!
2. Go for a Drive alone with them. I’m not sure what it is about driving in the car. Maybe it’s that kids can’t escape and there’s no wi-fi, lol. And maybe it’s because there’s less pressure with no eye contact because I’m focused on the road. This definitely seems to be one of the times where the most is shared.
3. This mom & me journal – Tami who works here at A Thrifty Mom posted this idea and I loved it so much I started it right away with my kids who are able to write! It has been surprising the times that I find this journal on my bed or brought out to me late at night. But I love that even though it’s difficult to sometimes voice a concern or struggle, writing it down can be therapeutic and also a way to let me know what’s going on.
4. Work with them – This doesn’t have to be their chore but any chore that needs to be done. Working alongside your kid can help build your bond and can teach them a good work ethic. My daughter likes to bake so I am often helping her with a new recipe and it’s a fun time to be together.
5. Take a walk together – It’s like going for a drive but you get to exercise! We like walking the dog down to the park. The dog can be a good distraction but it can also be a good time to ask them how things are at school and in their classes. How their friends are doing. If I ask my kids “How’s it going?” or “What did you do today at school” all I get is “Fine” or “nothing”. So I try to ask about a specific project they’ve been working on. Or how their friend is. How is the new girl getting along in school. Or I know you were struggling with (fill in the blank), what did you decide. Great time to gently insert advice and tell them about your experience. I know some kids “have it all figured out” and don’t think they’ll repeat your mistakes. But I remember my mom sharing some stories with me and even though I was flippant about it as a teenager, I still remember what she said and did take it to heart.
I amplify all these ideas by trying to make myself available. Put down the phone as soon as they come in the room to talk to you. If they think you’re busy I’ve seen my kid turn right back around and leave.
Also, take an interest in your kid. Talk to them about what they like even if you’ve heard 5 million minecraft stories (my son right there) or about that graphic novel she’s read 20 times. This builds trust and confidence in your communication lines.
Lastly, don’t freak out when they start to tell you something big. Some time your kid is going to go through something you never thought they would have to face. One of my kids had something happen in the 3rd grade. They were was so young and I wasn’t prepared. I may have been a bit upset with the revelation. I had to walk out of the room and calm down. And then I realized my mistake, went back in and told my child how much I love them, hugged them, and then listened to what happened.
When they tell you, Do. Not. Freak. School your face and emotions. Tell them you need a minute to process. And just listen. You know your kid. Love them and help them get through whatever it is they’re struggling with. If you get upset and have a knee-jerk reaction then your kid is going to think you can’t handle it and just stop sharing with you.
Remember, none of us are perfect, let alone a perfect parent. I wish kids came with instruction manuals sometimes because they are all so different from each other. I often find myself apologizing for my mistakes and I’ve seen that rub off some on my kids. We are just doing our best!
These are the things I’ve found work for me and my kids so far. What works for you?