How do you have a great relationship with your kids? When my kiddos were tiny, having a great relationship was easy. This primarily took feeding them, rocking them to sleep, and holding them close. As my kids grew, keeping a great relationship involved regular play-time and being actively engaged in their lives.
Today, as the daddy to a teen and a pre-teen, I’m learning that I need to up my parenting game. Sure, connecting with my teenagers is a blast. But because they are so independent, it also means that keeping our relationship close requires extra intentionality.
Kids Grow Up Fast
“Enjoy the time now, because they grow up fast!” I remember receiving this advice from an older parent when my daughter was born. I also distinctly remember rolling my eyes and thinking to myself, “Yeah, yeah, that’s what older adults are supposed to say.”
Now that I’m the parent to a thirteen and an eleven-year-old (and have a lot more grey in my goatee), whenever I’m asked for parenting advice I always suggest, “Enjoy the time now, because they grow up fast!” Sure, it sounds cliche,’ but it truly is the best advice I have to offer.
Having a Great Relationship With Your Kids Intentionally
Teenagers, as I am quickly discovering, have busy lives. They have friends, sports, cell-phones, youth-group, birthday parties, concerts, and after school activities. All of this makes getting caught up in the never-ending hustle and bustle of life all too easy.
This is why I’m so thankful to have connected with Randy Pardue. Randy is a pastor, the author of From Diapers to Dorms, and a man with an incredible amount of parenting wisdom! To top it all off, Randy and his wife actually had a newborn in diapers and another kiddo living in the college dorms—at the exact same time! Today, Randy teaches amazing positive parenting skills from both personal and professional experiences.
Jenny and I had the privilege of picking Randy’s Brain during our Thriving at Home Summit. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways on how to have a great relationship with your kids from the time they are in diapers all the way to the dorms!
Top Takeaways for a Great Relationship with Your Kids
- Relationship is key. Rules minus relationship lead to rebellion. (Randy says this is so important that he teaches it in every one of his parenting classes!)
- The secret too good parenting is to be directionally minded or intentionally focused on where we want our kids to be.
Strategies for Raising Attractional Kids
- Raising attractional kids—kids who like you and who you like being around—requires intentionality. Everyone intends to be a good parent, but pulling this off requires intentional effort.
- Parents can direct their kids to be attractional by helping them communicate well. Speaking is a lot like a game of catch. Parents can teach their kids to be interested in others and to throw the conversational ball back well.
- Parents can help their kids be attractional by teaching them to be the thermostat, and not the thermometer. In other words, be the person who sets the tone and temperature of the conversation (like a thermostat) as opposed to letting your internal mood and temperature be swayed by everyone around you (like the thermometer).
- Parents can model apologizing when they are wrong. Our kids know we have flaws, so why not admit it. Doing this builds up relational currency.
- Words like “Please” and “Thank you” also build up relational currency. This is key not only in having a great relationship with our kids but also in helping our kids be attractional to others!
3 Strategies to Have a Great Relationship with Your Kids
1. Have a Great Relationship with Your Kids With a P.T. Prescription
- Often kids act out because they either want attention or control.
- Kids also need the attention of mom and dad. A key to fulfilling this need is to get intentional about PT-or parenting time.
- One positive parenting strategy is to intentionally ask your child, “What would you like to do?” and make that time theirs twice a day for two ten-minute segments.
- Feed your child’s need for attention now, and it will pay dividends later on. Remember, your kids want you, not a gadget.
2. Have a Great Relationship with Your Kids by Offering Choices
- Parents can avoid the power struggle by offering limited choices. Providing two options allows children to feel in control and often avoids the parenting power struggle. Examples of choices parents can offer their young kids include options like:
- Would you rather eat the carrots or the peas?
- Would you like to wear this outfit or that one?
- Do you want to walk to bed, or do you want daddy to fly you to bed like superman?
3. Have a Great Relationship with Your Kids through Directional Parenting
- Directional parenting involves envisioning what you would like your child to look like in the future (in college or as a young adult) and then identifying the qualities it will take to get him or her there. In the corporate world, this would be called “creating your customer’s avatar.” In the parenting realm, being directional is about getting clear and intentional about what we want our children to look like when we are no longer around—because life is fast, and one day we won’t be.
- This type of intentional parenting can also be thought of as blueprinting or reverse engineering.
4. Have a Great Relationship with Your Kids through Connection
- Breakfast time, dinner, before bed, and driving time are excellent opportunities for parents to ask their kids great questions, get to know their kids, and teach their kids the envisioning qualities they want their kids to know.
- If parents have quantity time with their kids, the quality will follow!
- Finally, if you really want to draw out your kids, try a campfire. When families sit together, looking at the flames, with no agenda, it’s amazing where the conversation goes!
Continuing the Conversation
Jenny and I would love to hear from you!
- Which positive parenting strategies have you tried, and how did they work?
- What parenting ideas would you add to this list?
- Is there a single most important piece of parenting advice that you pass on to others?
- What was your biggest takeaway from this conversation on having a great relationship with your kids from diapers to the dorm room and beyond?
To keep the conversation going, simply leave your thoughts in the comments below! Finally, for more great insights from out Thriving at Home Summit, check out our post on How to Create Your Family Mission Statement!