While it’s easy to assume you’ll always have a strong relationship with your children, it’s not necessarily something that happens automatically. Maintaining a healthy relationship with your kids is something that takes time, effort, and dedication.
As they grow, your children need different things from you. From developing a secure attachment as a baby to leaning on you for support and advice as a teenager, it’s essential to be able to adapt to the stages of your kids’ lives. Positive relationships between kids and parents help them learn and develop properly while preparing them for the world. As a parent, you’ll also end up learning a lot about yourself as you raise your children.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can maintain a healthy relationship with your kids as they grow, and what it really means to have a positive connection.
Build a Firm Foundation
In a perfect world, a healthy relationship with your child starts from the moment they’re born. That’s when you should begin the work of building a foundation. Prioritize things like time with your child, building trust, and practicing communication from day one.
Relationships don’t happen overnight and they’re not something that can be rushed. Instead, note that your daily interactions with your kids are like the building blocks of your relationship – they might take a while to put in place, but they’ll be strong and secure once they’re there.
As your children get older, it’s the work you put in early on that will make a big difference in the closeness of your relationship. They’ll be more likely to come to you when things go wrong, when they’re struggling, or when they need advice even as they reach adulthood.
Spend Quality Time Together
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy relationship with your kids is simply to be present. It’s so easy to let life distract us from our children. Between long work hours, extra activities, and an influx of technology, it’s not always easy to be present.
When you prioritize quality time and being “in the moment” with your children, they’ll notice. It shows them their importance and value, and that you’re taking the time to recognize them. Not sure how to tune in? Try some of these suggestions:
- Spend time playing with your child and letting them use their imagination
- Notice what they’re doing and encourage them
- Listen to their stories and learn more about their feelings
- Support their ideas
Quality time together also strengthens your bond and helps you get to know each other at every stage of your child’s life. Consider starting a hobby together that you can both enjoy for years. That might include going hunting every weekend in the fall, taking an art class, learning an instrument, or even traveling. Doing something that is special and becomes something that’s “yours” will not only build a strong and trusting relationship, but it will give you both lifelong memories that you can look back on fondly.
Give Them Space
Giving your kids space might not seem like it would strengthen your relationship, but if you “hold on” too tightly or smother them, they’re going to find ways to seek out independence on their own. That can later lead to rebellion and a strained relationship.
It’s good to be involved in your kids’ lives. It’s important to always be there for them and show support. However, there’s a difference between being a constant presence and being a helicopter parent. You might expect too much from your kids and the relationship you have, which can cause tension later in life.
There’s a healthy balance that’s important to strike when it comes to giving your kids space and still being there for them. You can find that balance by:
- Establishing good routines
- Letting your kids show you how they feel
- Giving them choices
- Letting them play outside
- Giving them time for inner space
As your kids get older, how you give them space might change. For example, teenagers naturally want more independence, and it’s essential to let them have some (while still setting boundaries). Your teen might be interested in dating, and while you can certainly allow and support that, it’s also a good idea to talk to them about the importance of being safe, especially if they’re using technology to meet up with others or send text messages.
By the time your kids are adults, you can have a strong relationship that makes them feel secure enough to step out into the world, but one that also lets them know they can rely on you for support and advice no matter how old they are. Stay present, set boundaries, and let them experience independent freedom when it’s appropriate. The rest will fall into place more naturally than you might think. Keep these ideas in mind for every stage of your children’s lives, and enjoy your relationship every step of the way.