The Secret to Getting to Know Your Children
By Grant Stenzel, MS Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Do you know what your children like to do in their free time? The hobbies they enjoy when you’re not around? You might be surprised how many parents don’t. Taking an active interest in your child’s life not only helps their emotional growth, but it just might become one of the most satisfying parts of your life as well.
Some parents fall into this role naturally. Others have more difficulty in establishing closer relationships with their sons and daughters. But making an effort can pay dividends for the whole family. Here are some tips that can bring you and your children closer together..
Make time for communication. Even if everyone’s schedule rarely matches up, mark dinner dates on the calendar and stick to them. A prayer of thanks is an excellent way to pull focus back to what is really important in life and clear the mind for conversation.
Have each person at the table share something from their day. Don’t simply ask, “How was your day?” Instead, get specific. “What was something funny that happened today? What made you angry today? What made you feel good?” Don’t be discouraged if periods of silence fall over the table. Like any behavior, family conversation takes practice and repetition to master and make it second nature.
Cues to your children’s interests are all around the house. A bit of focused observation will reveal them. It’s pretty easy to spot what younger kids are interested in. Just look at their books, puzzles and toys. For older children, sports equipment is an obvious one. Other detective work you can do: What video games are they into? What are they reading? What apps do they use? What does their YouTube history look like?
When you ask a question, listen carefully to the answer. Children of almost any age know if you are focused on them or not. You don’t need to know much about the subject matter, either. Let them teach you. Remember what you talk about and bring it up in the next conversation. You may find yourself more interested in the topic than you thought.
Here’s our challenge to you: Once every couple weeks, spend an hour or two with each of your children doing something they love. Whether they’re super into horror movies, video games, music, art or writing, get in there. Prove that you’re curious about them. You’ll be stunned by the payoff. When you show how interested you are in your kids and that their interests matter to you, their morale will soar.
Find the Joy in Every Moment
Using these simple tips can bring you and your children closer together. Begin when they are born and make it a lifetime habit, or start now. I think you’ll find that those humans you made are pretty remarkable. And if you’re lucky, they will grow into lifelong friends when they leave the nest.
If you’d like to learn more, or could use some help with the process, one of our counselors would be happy help.