These 5 Tips Will Help You Build A Lifelong Relationship With Your Child

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I am extraordinarily lucky in that I count my kids as my closest friends. Now that they are all adults, I can relax my parenting role and just enjoy the amazing, funny and cool people they turned out to be. I know that our children don’t owe us a relationship once they’re grown. Respect goes both ways and has to be earned, so I’m especially thankful that they want to be friends with me too, and we have a relationship of love and respect. But it didn’t happen automatically! Here are my biggest tips to cultivate a healthy parent-child relationship.


Just Listen

If you don’t listen to your kids when they are small and are talking about small stuff, they won’t come to you when they’re bigger with big problems. I listened to my kids for hours rant about different dinosaurs, trucks, pop stars, Disney shows, whatever until I was going to do a silent scream — but to this day they know they can come to me with anything, no matter how heavy. 

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When You Listen, Don’t React

To me there are two aspects of this — when your kid comes to tell you they made a HUGE mistake or have a HUGE problem, don’t react. Don’t yell or lecture or say I told you so; there will be time for all of that. They KNOW they messed up. They need you to help them to problem solve, then when you both are calm you can talk about responsibility, choices, and consequences. Also, sometimes they don’t want you to problem solve, especially as they get older. Since I am a natural “fixer” sometimes I need to verbally ask my kids, “Do you just want to vent or do you need advice?” And if they just need to vent, I hold my tongue.

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Have Zero Expectations

Okay, maybe not zero. I expect my kiddos to be good citizens of the world and to have values. But I don’t hold expectations of what career path they’ll take, whom they’ll love, where they’ll choose to live, etc. It’s a wondrous thing to see your little people become fully-fledged humans with their own personalities, agendas, and plans. Don’t stifle that process by imposing expectations. Just sit back and watch them unfold, cheering them on step by step.

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Put Them First, Always

For some this is natural, and others struggle with it. Every kid deserves to have at least one person who puts them first, loves them unconditionally and would do just about anything for them. When we have that level of stability, a big strong safety net under us as we walk the wire of life, we are more willing to take risks, to challenge ourselves and to think big. Put your kids before your career, your personal life and your own goals, at least when they’re growing up. 18 years flies by, and then you can do whatever you want with whomever you want. 

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Meet Them Where They Are

I don’t mean physically, but communicate on their level. Get to know their interests, their friends, the things that matter to them. Ask leading questions that don’t feel like prying. If they hate talking on the phone, text or message instead of calling. If you visit them in their town, have them take you to their favorite restaurant or park, wherever they like to go. Always be encouraging as much as possible, put your own preferences to the side and let them share their life with you in a nonjudgmental space. If they share something with you that you don’t understand or makes you uncomfortable, don’t change the subject or shy away — instead simply say, “This is new for me, but I’m so glad that you’re comfortable sharing it with me.” 

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Are you looking for ways to better build your relationship with your child? How has that experience been for you? Share with us in the comments!

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