Take this Fourth of July to reflect on how you might improve your relationship with one or more of your children by taking advantage of any of the following parent freedoms:
You have the freedom to…
– Have regular times when you put away all of your technology so your child knows they are the most important person in your life. If you do not do this, your child will remember you as a parent who was physically present but mentally absent.
– After you get in an argument with your child, apologize for words or behavior that did not honor the relationship you have with them. If you are the kind of parent who rarely apologizes, how can you expect your child to be forgiving toward you or others?
– Regularly talk with your child about you and how they can improve the relationship. Make this discussion a two-way street where they can feel comfortable to critique your parenting. This is not about giving them inappropriate power; it is for showing them that the best relationships involve discussions about what is not going so well and how it can be corrected.
– As a husband or wife, ensure that the other has regular and significant time completely away from the children where they can rejuvenate. Too many husbands forget that when you do not give your wife substantial time away from the children, this often leads to a gradual erosion of the marital relationship because resentment builds up and can become a lifelong attitude of irritability.
– As a parenting couple, continue to “Keep the Romance Alive” by doing regular date nights and/or long weekend “junkets” were you continue to cultivate the relationship intimacy you have that is above and beyond your parenting relationship. If this intimacy is damaged, you have the freedom to find a counselor who can help repair the damage.
– Understand that the way you treat your (ex-)husband or (ex-)wife will provide a basic relationship model that your child uses to choose dating partners or lifelong mates. Every day you should remind yourself that the best way to protect your child from relationship danger is to treat their other parent well. This teaches your child to look for relationships where there is a healthy dynamic.
– Use your child’s bedtime as a time of day to unwind with them rather than as a time to simply say “good night”. Too many parents miss this priceless opportunity they have, especially when your child is between the ages of 5 and 12, to use this time of day as a way of bonding with the child. Don’t undervalue the importance of focusing and your child at this time of the day. The transition from wakefulness to sleeping is often fraught with worries and anxieties that can be alleviated by a parent who is calm and supportive and who simply is willing to listen. It’s not about interrogating your child; it is about being present to them and listening to their “music between the notes”.