The parent-child relationship is important – it “fosters empathy, honesty, self-reliance, self-control, kindness, cooperation, and cheerfulness. It also promotes intellectual curiosity, motivation, and desire to achieve. It helps protect children from developing anxiety, depression, eating disorders, anti-social behavior, and alcohol and drug abuse,” according to Laurence Steinberg, PHD who wrote The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting.
We, as parents, have an enormous power over our children. We can make or break them. By learning how to be good parents, we can give them spectacular lives.
In a MTV/Associated Press survey, teens were asked what made them the most happy. For three quarters, the results were consistent. Approximately 73 percent of teens reported their relationship with their parents is what makes them most happy.
The following are ways to foster a good relationship with your children. One they can depend on for the rest of their life.
Being attuned means entering their world. It includes understanding and interacting with them on a level they can comprehend. This connection is biological, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. According to Dr. Bornstein, “when interactions with caregivers fall out of attunement by becoming mistimed or mismatched, children and parents both experience distress.”
To achieve attunement, parents and children need to seek to understand each other. In many parent-child relationship, arguments ensue because parents and children don’t feel as though they see eye-to-eye. Being open to listen to what your children say and trying to understand what their thinking and feeling can open the gates of attunement, which can then lead to deeply-connected conversations.
Children need their parents, and we need to be there for them. Many parents believe once children are old enough to pour themselves a bowl of cereal, they can take care of themselves. This is untrue. Development continues well past this stage. Lilly Eskelsen Garcia and Otha Thornton advises, “The most significant type of involvement is what parents do at home. By monitoring, supporting and advocating, parents can be engaged in ways that ensure that their children have every opportunity for success.”
We all get busy with work and personal responsibilities, but the most important work and responsibility we have is being a good parent. Taking a time out each day to be with our children to show them we always have time for them can do wonders for a parent-child relationship. Children need to feel they are important to their parents, and parents show this by being part of their children’s lives.
We all have rules to follow. Children need to learn how to follow rules at a young age, or they will have trouble following the rules and laws of society. Dr. Steinberg warns, “If you don’t manage your child’s behavior when he is young, he will have a hard time learning how to manage himself when he is older and you aren’t around.”
As parents, we need to establish rules in our home that are easily followed, just like the laws we have as adults. Just as there are consequences for breaking laws, children need consequences for breaking rules.
“The rules your child has learned from you are going to shape the rules he applied to himself,” says Steinberg. Having rules in your home won’t only help children learn how to follow laws later, it will also help them implement rules for themselves. These rules are ones that can help them achieve great success in life.
Be a Role Model
Research has shown repeatedly that children, “do as parents do, not as they say.” What we do means more than anything we can ever say. Each day, we should behave the way we want our children to behave. This can be difficult for some parents who feel they are entitled to behave in certain ways because they are adults. However, the feeling of entitlement translates to a behavior that many teens exhibit, so that is something to keep in mind when wondering why a troubled teen may feel he “should” be able to do something.
Being a good parent isn’t easy, but it’s important. We all can be good parents. We just need to try a little harder on building a loving and strong parent-child relationship.