This comic from Family Tree is an amusing way to look at how we spend time with our kids.  Parents can feel pressure to constantly be “teaching” something rather than just relaxing and enjoying time with your child.

Family TreeAuthor L.R. Knost is quoted as saying: “Focus more on who your child is than what your child does. Remember you are growing a person, not fixing a problem.”

I once heard Maya Angelou ask: when your child walks into the room, does your face light up with the pleasure of seeing them?  I was struck by this.  Typically, as soon as we see our kids, we are checking them for problems; are her shoes tied? is her skirt too short? are his pants dirty and wrinkled?  Imagine how you would feel if, when you enter a room your spouse immediately criticized something about you.  As parents we do this without thinking, because we are trying to “improve” our children.  Instead, take this opportunity to point out something you admire about them; I love those colors together, Wow! You are so punctual, I am so happy to see you!

What are some ways you enjoy spending time with your child? Think about things you like to do with each of your children individually and then carve out regular time to enjoy these activities together- even for 15 minutes! Reading, listening, making up stories are all simple ways to connect.  You can begin by turning off the TV 30 minutes before bedtime and using this time to read with to your child. Just be present when they are speaking to you- put down the phone, close the computer, turn off the TV, look them in the eyes and LISTEN to what they are telling you.  Find the time in the day when you child likes to talk to you and make sure you make yourself available then.  I stay up late on weekend nights because when my daughter gets home from hanging out with her friends, she is happy and relaxed and talks to me.

Surprise them with your Presence.

Productive love that can transform another human being has four major qualities: care, responsibility, knowledge and respect.  The parent-child connection can be maintained by acknowledging your child’s strengths, appreciating their skills and giving them choices.

By our actions we elicit certain behaviors.  We can change the way our children treat us by changing the way we treat them.

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