By Kim Waggoner, RN Waggoner Health, Etna Green
This article is not like the other ones I’ve shared with you so far — i.e. “eat this, don’t eat that!” I think that there are a lot of things that affect our health besides the food we eat. Our relationships being one of them.
Unhealthy relationships can cause stress and worry. Working toward healthy relationships can offer more peace in our life, giving us a positive outlook and a feeling of purpose. Today I decided to focus on the relationship with our kids. Here are a few things I do to keep the lines of communication open with my kids and continue to grow a healthy relationship with them:
1. Mother and daughter and/or son journal. I have a notebook for each child. I will write a note to them or ask them questions and they will write back. This gives them time to consider their answers and respond on their own time. I notice I get more thought filled answers than just a quick yes, no, or I don’t know.
2. Tuck them in at night. Yes, that’s right. My kids are 18 and 16, but I always tuck them in at night. It looks a lot different than when they were elementary aged — no longer do I sing them to sleep (ok, well sometimes I still do), but I NEVER miss a night to touch base with them before they head off to bed.
I ask two questions: What was the best part of your day and what was the worst part of your day? Sometimes it is a quick 5 minute connection, but other times it can lead in to a half hour or more conversation. I love using this time to learn more about them. It reveals their strengths and/or struggles, allows time for teaching or just letting them know they are important enough to be heard.
3. USE social media! When MySpace first came out, my husband and I rolled our eyes and thought that it is a waste of our kids time and would pull them away from the reality of talking with real people. So I decided to use it to my advantage and got my own account (now also Facebook and Twitter) and use them to stay connected to my kids instead. I choose not to “spy” on my kids. I occasionally see what’s happening on their pages, but I use it more to connect with them. I will occasionally post a praise if they have done something to help me or to let them know I am proud of an accomplishment. I say occasionally, don’t blow up your kids wall with daily posts and embarrass them. I like to use social media though because sometimes I think of things I should have said and didn’t. I can connect with them through a private message or send a text to their cell phone just to let them know I am thinking about them.
4. Ask for forgiveness. I am NOT perfect and my kids know it. The best way to keep communication open with them is to be honest and tell them when you have blown it. There have been times I have overreacted, jumped to conclusions or just plain didn’t treat them with respect. I want them to feel like they can come talk to me in any situation – good or bad. They must know that I struggle with my tongue or actions too.
I choose to be transparent and share this with them and ask for forgiveness when I need to! This is also a great reminder to be ready to offer forgiveness as well. Sometimes I think we expect our kids to be perfect. I am learning that no matter how well I parent them, they are going to make mistakes and it doesn’t mean I am a horrible parent if they did. It means they are human. It means I have the awesome opportunity to show them grace and walk beside them as they make poor choices and guide them towards better choices next time. It also means I get to accept them and love them through those mistakes. The way I react to their mistakes can be crucial to the health of our relationship.
5. PRAY. PRAY. PRAY. Pray FOR your kids, pray WITH your kids, pray OVER your kids, just don’t stop praying! Somethings are out of my control. Ok, well, A LOT of things are out of my control. I trust that my God will help work in my kids hearts (and mine) to help us stay connected and have a healthy relationship. Prayer softens my heart to have grace with myself and with them.
6. Be purposeful. Plan to make it a routine to communicate and connect with your kids. Just like I schedule my questions at bedtime or my Tuesday Morning Moms prayer group. If you schedule times to connect with your kids then it happens. I find if I don’t have a plan and schedule times to connect the days or weeks can go by and I haven’t had a real conversation with them. Remember it doesn’t have to be an expensive date night out with your kids to make it count. What counts is that you are making time for them, as you do the connection becomes natural and you will experience a healthier relationship with them.
I realize in writing this that maybe your relationship with your child is strained and you may feel hopeless in knowing what to do. Maybe you feel like you have made attempts to bring the health back to the relationship and it hasn’t changed a thing. You may not be able to make your child respond in a healthy manor towards you but you can control your response.
As you continue to reach out don’t allow bitterness to set in. Instead, continue to be positive and willing to be patient. One of my favorite bible passages is 1 Corinthians 13. It reminds me that love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs and love always HOPES! I encourage you continue to wipe the slate clean and believe that there is always hope for a healthy relationship with your child.
Please share what things you do to have a healthy relationship with your kids. I’d also love to hear stories of hope for healed relationships to encourage those who need it! Have a great week!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kim Waggoner is a wife, mom, nurse and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Survivor. Her passion is to come alongside others, encouraging them to create healthy, happy, hopeful lives. Kim is the owner of Waggoner Health and writes a blog, www.kimwaggoner.com to educate and inspire others.