When your children were little it seemed like you knew exactly what to do. But now, that your children hitting their teen years, your mom and dad crowns seem to be looking a little rusty. You may frequently find yourself looking for family relationship advice.
Once you were the party planners and the cool parents your little ones wanted to be around, but now they have their own friends and hobbies that keep them busy. Having an active social life is healthy for youths, but as parents, it can make you feel a little disconnected.
Here are 7 ways you can connect with your children as parents to create strong, happy relationships.
1. Eat meals together daily
Some of the best family relationship advice is to eat at least one meal a day together, not in front of the television.
There are many reasons why families should sit down and share a meal together. First, children are scientifically proven to make healthier meal choices, get better grades, and explore different foods when they ate meals with their parents regularly.
Family meals are a great time for everybody to talk, laugh, and share a little about their day. Studies show that children who had dinner with their parents 5-7 times a week were more likely to report healthy, satisfying relationships with their parents.
Eating a meal together as a family is also strongly linked as a form of substance-use prevention in teens.
Children who regularly ate meals as a family also have better mental health in adolescent years than those who did not.
2. Be patient
Nobody ever said raising children was going to be easy. There’s going to be times when they do things that frustrate, upset or disappoint you. But it’s important to be patient. Think about what you were like at their age.
Focus on the positive and use each new experience or conversation with your child to let them know that you are there for them, whether they need emotional or physical support. Let them know that you’ll always be there to talk to, no matter what the problem is.
When your child sees you reacting calmly and patiently to a situation, they are more likely to come to you with issues in the future.
3. Hug every day
Physical touch is a great way to create nonverbal communication. When your children were younger, you were likely able to hug and snuggle them to your heart’s content. Now that they are a little older, don’t think you have to give up the physical connection.
Many studies today have highlighted the importance of touch in development. For example, touch is a large way that humans recognize emotions. Touch can also make you appear more trustworthy to your children.
4. Listen to them
As parents trying to connect with their children, the best way to get to know your children is by listening. This shows them that you’re giving them the respect of having their own thoughts and opinions.
Odds are your child is going to remember whether or not you were really paying attention when they were pouring their heart out to you. So, when you listen, make sure you are fully present.
Turn off your cell phone or smart device and give your child your undivided attention. You would never want him or her to think that your handheld tech was more important than their problems.
Another great way to show your children you’re listening is to turn off the television or turn down the music in the vehicle when they are talking to you.
5. Spend one-on-one time together
Children need to spend time together with their family, but it’s also beneficial for you to give each child one-on-one time with each parent. Even setting aside 15 minutes a day to be with each of your children can help them develop their own personal bond with you and your spouse outside of a full family arrangement.
You can also extend your time with your children, perhaps taking an interest in their likes, dislikes, and then planning a day together to explore their hobbies.
6. Plan family activities
Just as couples schedule a romantic date night, families should schedule time to spend together. These family outings are wonderful for making memories and connecting as a unit.
Let your children take turns planning what they want to do. Some wonderful ideas include going to a carnival, bowling, having a picnic, family game night, or taking a day-trip to the beach. You could also plan an exciting family vacation or weekend trip together, asking your children for input on what they would like to do.
These are great opportunities to bond with your children and to make them feel like they are someone you want to spend your time with, not someone you want to vacation to get away from.
7. Take care of your marriage
In order to be great parents to your children, you must strengthen your bond as married partners. And there’s no better way to do this than with date night.
Date night is a chance to leave the Homefront, dress up, flirt, build up sexual chemistry with one another, and have a good time the way you used to before you were married.
Plan fun or romantic outings together and use that time to reconnect as lovers, not just as parents.
You may also use date night as a weekly staple for spending time alone together in the bedroom. Couples who have thriving sex lives report higher relationship satisfaction than couples who are not regularly intimate. In fact, one study revealed that couples valued an active sex life more than they value money.
Your children shouldn’t just see you as mom and dad, they should see you as their confidants and friends. That’s the best family relationship advice anyone can give.
You can help build a deeper connection with your kids by displaying patience, being free of judgments, giving them your undivided attention, and factoring them into your plans for travel and how you spend your leisure time.