Being a parent is tough, and when your children start to grow up it can be even harder to have a strong parental relationship. It seems that overnight, your sweet, innocent children now have an attitude problem and want to be with their friends more than with you.
It can be hard to maintain a connection with your children during this period, and you might feel like they’re drifting away. Fortunately, it is possible to maintain a positive parent-child relationship and allow them to grow up and flourish at the same time. We outline six ways that can help build children’s relationship with their parents. From listening more to experiencing new things together, strong family relationships are absolutely achievable.
Talk less and listen more
Children and teenagers want to be listened to and respected – being open with your children can positively affect your relationship with them. If you aren’t a “safe” person that they can talk to about how they feel, they won’t confide in you. Allowing your child to speak openly about how they’re feeling, allows you to understand them more (even if you don’t agree) and will bring you closer.
Praise rather than punish
Constantly speaking negatively to your child is closing the door that you should actively be trying to keep open. Of course, punish when punishment is due, but when they do something right, make sure it is recognised as children want to be acknowledged when they do good things. If they aren’t, it’s less likely that they’ll continue performing these actions for your recognition.
Make memories together
Even though your child may be more interested in spending time with their friends, make sure you both set time aside together to experience new things. It can be as simple as going to the cinema or walking the dog, or more extravagant experiences like weekends away or holidays - there are plenty of ways that you can continue to make memories with your children as they grow up. This will bring you closer and allow you to get to know the adults they’re growing into.
Do things as a team
Similarly, it’s important to remind your child that you are a team, and although you may not agree with them all the time, you’ll always be there for them. Doing things together builds a bond that is harder to break. If you have similar interests, why not join a club together? This could be a sports team for mixed ages, a book club or an organisation like The Army Cadets. Joining a club together means you can build memories, get to know your child in a different setting and build a deeper connection.
Eat meals as a family
It may seem like a cliché, but it is so important! It’s common that the time around the dinner table is the only time you will spend together that day, so make sure it happens. It is an opportunity for everybody to share something about their day and talk about any worries they might have. Try to ask your children questions – it will let them know that you’re willing to listen to anything and everything they have to say.
Make them a priority
It may seem obvious, but sometimes life gets in the way and you spend your time focusing on everything but your children. Children, especially teenagers, notice when you aren’t paying them attention, and this will encourage them to distance themselves. Take advantage of the miracles that are your children and how lucky you are to have them - try to forget about the material things that don’t matter as much.
The Army Cadet Force – a family affair?
We encourage anyone and everyone to join the Army Cadet Force. It doesn’t matter what your background, gender or interests are – we believe that there is something for everyone. Throughout the years, we have had family members join the ACF together. Whether they were siblings, husband and wife or parent and child, we have found that it has positively impacted their lives and relationships with each-other. Some decide to stay separated within the organisation, whilst others decide to embrace it.
Lt Diane Barmby explains how the ACF brought her and her stepdaughter, Libby, closer;
“When we are at home there are all the normal things – I tell her to tidy her room, she complains that I am making her eat vegetables – but having cadets brings a whole new dimension to our relationship. It’s something we both love and can get involved with together.”
Libby explains how sharing a hobby with her step mum is not at all embarrassing;
“I didn’t know what to expect, but it is nice to have her in the detachment. Everyone knows she is my step mum, but it didn’t affect how she treated me. Everyone laughed when I said ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to her at camp [stepping out of marching order to do so], but it was funny, not embarrassing. Sharing cadets has definitely brought us closer.”
If you want to join an organisation where both you and your child can benefit in plenty of ways, why not find your nearest detachment and learn more about the ACF? Volunteering with us provides a gateway of opportunity – like gaining new qualifications and experiencing fun weekends away. It may be the bonding experience your family needs to build a stronger parent and child relationship.