The Parent-Child Relationship?

If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later. I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I’d take more hikes and fly more kites. I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I’d do more hugging and less tugging. – Diane Loomans

 Developing a Strong Parent-Child Relationship

A mother hears her newborn baby cry, and responds immediately.  She knows his cries, and knows this cry means he’s hungry.  She changes his wet diaper and settles in to nurse him.

A father hears his four-year-old daughter crying in another room and finds her snuggling a stuffed animal her mother had given her.  Mom is away on a business trip.  Dad scoops his daughter up in his arms and strokes her head, while patiently listening to her concerns.  He validates each of her feelings with words like “Oh I know, honey, I miss mommy too”, and “Mommy is so special, isn’t she?”

What do these two scenarios have in common?   They help build the parent-child relationship.

What Is The Parent-Child Relationship?

According to the Washington Post, “The parent-child relationship affects us more profoundly than any other relationship of our lives. It is the foundation of all of our relationships and the source of our earliest consciousness about love, intimacy, trust and security. It can nourish us to wholeness and self-assurance or scar us for life.”

The parent-child relationship can nourish us or scar us.

Isn’t that enough to motivate us to be the very best parents we can be?  Or does it scare us in to taking every precaution we can, so as not to scar our children for life?

Build A Good Relationship and the Rest is Easy

Because of this, I worked very hard the past 18 years to develop the best relationship I could with my boys.  I guess I was scared to death of scarring them for life!  What I have learned over the years is this:  the parent-child relationship is not only the cornerstone for our emotional growth, but it also influences every other aspect of parenting.  Discipline, guidance, emotion-coaching, skills building, socialization, conflict resolution…any skill or value we want to instill upon our child….our relationship with our child is the starting point of our teaching.  Build a good relationship, and the rest will come naturally and (almost!) easily.

We all can agree that “children are more likely to listen to and cooperate with an adult who they are connected to“.  Any good professional working with youth will first focus on building a relationship with that child before attempting the work they have set out to accomplish.  If a police officer wants to influence a child, especially a teenager, that police officer will first try to establish a connection.  The same goes for social workers, teachers, principals, youth spiritual leaders; any adult with the purpose of influencing youth in any way, will first establish a relationship with that child.  As our children’s first teachers, we certainly should follow suit.

So What Is Attachment?

The ‘parent-child relationship’ or the ‘parent-child bond’ is known as attachment.  Attachment is the emotional bond of the child towards the parent or the caregiver. “It is described as a pattern of emotional and behavioral interaction that develops over time”, according to Child Encyclopedia.  “Based on Bowlby’s attachment theory, the relationship developed with primary caregivers is the most influential in children’s lives. A secure relationship fosters not only positive developmental outcomes over time, but also influences the quality of future relationships with peers and partners.”

A strong, secure attachment with a child’s parents or primary caregiver is the key for strong emotional, psychological, social and developmental growth.  A secure relationship between child and parents will help that child to grow into the responsible, secure, amazing young adult that we all hope our children will be.

But How Do We Build This Relationship?

Sensitive parenting is hard work and does not come naturally to many parents.”, according to Child Encyclopedia.  I agree.  However, just because it doesn’t come easily doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  Sure, there are techniques, such as emotion-coaching and empathy, that take some skill and practice.  But it is also possible to build attachment with easy, daily steps.  Simply spending more quality time with your child or actively listening when he talks to you can do the trick.  Building a strong, secure relationship with your child can be as simple or as extravagant as you would like to make it.

Get Started

For right now, let’s keep it simple.  (We will dive in to more complex notions later.)

To start building, repairing or strengthening your relationship with your children TODAY, try one or all of these tips:

  • Say I love you every day
  • Eat a meal together
  • Play together
  • Develop and maintain bedtime rituals
  • Let your children help you
  • When your child talks to you, look her in the eye
  • Pray together
  • Read a story together
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings
  • Make your child your top priority

Making Mommas will take 2017 to dive deeper in to attachment and ways to build the parent-child relationship.   Let’s take a look at building a strong relationship with our children and the different forms of attachment.  Let’s examine different parenting styles and the effects they have on our children.  We will learn tips and tricks that we can put in to effect immediately in our day.

If you would like to be a part of the conversation, head on over to our Making Mommas FaceBook group.  Share your stories with others and learn from those who have been there.

Making It Real….

The Holiday Season is in full swing!  It is so easy, with all the hustle and bustle of the season, to neglect the needs of our children.  So let’s be sure they are at the top of our priorities.  I challenge you to spend some time with your children each and every day – even if it can only be a few minutes.  Let them help you with your Christmas preparations or create a new Christmas tradition together.  Spend some time together reading about the birth of Jesus.

Be sure to give your children your full, undivided attention.  To do this, look them in they eye when they talk to you and paraphrase what they have said back to them.

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