Are your parenting skills effective? Ken Christian, LCSW, a therapist with Aurora Behavioral Health Services, offers some time to developing good relationships with your children.
By today’s standards the traditional family is quite different than it was a generation ago. In the “old days”, dad went off to work while mom stayed home to take care of the children. When dad came home in the evening, the family would have a dinner together. This traditional family setting, as we once knew it, is in danger of extinction.
Today, increases in the divorce rate, two income families, and single-parent families have prompted changes in values and traditional parent roles. The focus among parents and children has shifted to activities outside the home – kids are doing one thing and parents are doing another. As a result, families are spending less time together.
Parents may be unable to control these societal changes, but with the proper “tools”, they can maintain their own values in the home and develop or maintain closer relationships with their children.
If you are a parent -married, single or divorced- you know it can be difficult to maintain a harmonious relationship with your child. There are a few things you can do to help lay the groundwork for a happy, healthy household:
- Focus on developing good communication and listening skills and be honest with your child. If you make a mistake, admit to it. It’s okay to let them know you’re human.
- Set expectations and limits for children. Make it clear what the expectations and consequences are, and stick to them. Many parents can fall into the trap of not being consistent and not following through on what they say. Remember – kids can be masters of manipulation. They may say things like “I hate you” or “you’re not fair”. At times you will feel guilty and want to give in. If you say you are going to ground your child if they do not take out the garbage – then do it.
- Work toward building your children’s self-esteem. In the long run it will help your relationship with them and help their relationships with others.
- Be a good role model. Don’t fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” trap. An example of this is: If you swear when you get upset, your child thinks it is okay to swear too. But when your child swears, they get scolded. Try to avoid sending mixed messages.
- Maintain control without turning things into a battleground. When your children reach their teens they will start challenging your judgment. For example, if your teenager wants to say out past midnight but doesn’t know where they will be, you might be inclined to say you don’t want them out past that time. Your teenager might respond by saying “Jimmy’s parents let him stay out past midnight without knowing where he’ll be”. You might respond by saying, “That’s not me. I value knowing where you are going to be and it’s important for me to know because I care about you”. Remember, you don’t always have to defend yourself or your actions. Saying “no” sometimes – and sticking to it – is all you need to do. Children need to learn how to handle hearing “no” for an answer. It is important that children recognize your values and their importance in your life.
If you are experiencing conflict with your children, or if you feel your child is out of control, contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. Our Child & Adolescent Day Treatment program can be the perfect resource.