Research shows us that the very basic foundation of healthy child and youth development is close family relationships. Most parents understand this vital connection and yet in our hurry-up, jam-packed world, we often find it difficult to find the time it takes to make these connections happen. When I speak to parents, I always ask them to practice TLC.
TALK - Parents need to talk with each other about raising their children. What are our family values, what is appropriate behavior, what is acceptable and not acceptable in our family? Is there anything that is so “sacred” we are not willing to give it up? It might be visits to Grandparents, worshipping together, being involved in service to others, sharing a family meal. Is there anything that we won’t give up for a practice, or a game or a recital? These would be good questions to talk about even before children are born! (This idea really jelled for me when we heard from a parent who was shamed into letting her daughter miss her Grandma’s funeral and another who was asked to miss her sister’s wedding because they were both “needed” by the team.)
LISTEN - Then we need to truly listen to our children. Are they involved in activities that THEY want to be involved in? A reporter from the Washington Post confirmed this idea by sharing an incident that had recently happened to her. She was interviewing an old friend and his son. Her friend had been a jock in high school and a jock in college and he was so proud of his little eleven year old son who was playing football. I said, "Johnny, do you like football?” His father was horrified when Johnny said, “Not really.” It had never occurred to Johnny’s father that Johnny was playing for his Dad, not for himself. We also need to watch for warning signs - are our kids not sleeping well, not eating well, or do they feel overwhelmed by all that they are involved in and don’t feel that they are really good at anything? We must listen carefully to what our child is saying.
CONNECT - Then we need to connect with our children every day, in many different ways and often! Every child is different and a tickling game for one may be the ultimate connection but not for another. Figure out what connects with each of your children. Please check out our FAMILY CONNECTIONS tab and our three blogs found under NEWS for hundreds of ideas on how to connect with your kids today!