One of the questions that I ask myself as a parent every single day is this:
“Did I connect with my daughter today?”
The connection we create together might be giggling on top of each other on the floor (she is five) or sharing a vulnerable feeling during bedtime that either one of us is working on. In whatever way it shows up, one of my goals as a parent is to make sure that it happens at least once between sunrise and sundown.
Here’s what I learned as a parent: connecting is better than being right all the time
. Sometimes you need to let go of having them eat all their vegetables and focus on why the video game they love matters so much, because their world is a fascinating reflection of their mind and soul, and is worth listening to with awe and appreciation.
Here are a few ways that I find useful for creating moments of connection:
– Stay physically close.
Physical nearness might be being in the same room or inviting in tons of hugs and kisses. It means that you are there for them not to accomplish something but just for the sake of being with them.
– Look into their eyes and see the soul behind the words and tantrums.
In times of tension, take a moment to see beyond the words, and appreciate what makes you love this soul so very much.
– Do something your child adores doing.
Bake cookies, watch cartoons, play video or iPad games. For as long as you can, immerse yourself completely in their world. And watch how they come alive with your attention.
– Do something silly that invites giggles and laughter.
Tickle games, playing tag, repeating words, sentences, and situations that they find funny are great ways to come to the same wavelength. The Wright Wellness Center Family Meeting is a perfect time to invite extra giggles and laughter as you show your kids that planning and communication are positive and fun.
– Hold space for their emotions without trying to fix or change them or the situation.
First, repeat back what you heard. Then, you can share your stories of vulnerability or ask them what they need to feel safe and understood. Do your best to help them understand you are here to listen to them whenever they need it.
– Ask them how you can be a better parent.
Their answers might surprise you. Children are pretty quick to get to the heart of any issue. Say sorry, take responsibility and ask them if you both can start over the next day.
To finish up…
I find that as much as I love connecting over moments of laughter or fun, the moments of vulnerability are just as valuable. As my daughter grows up, I find that my role as a parent is one of making things ok. It’s ok to cry. It is ok to feel helpless sometimes. It’s ok to be angry. Often, I find that I am better able to do this when I have taken care of my needs of being nurtured, seen, heard, and loved.
What’s your favorite way to connect with the children in your life? Do you feel like you make enough time for connection every day, every week, every month? What kind of support and/or self-care could you use more like a parent to be able to create time and capacity for a deeper connection?
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