For most parents, the desire to love and provide for their child is as natural as breathing. But the truth is in this day and age where people are inundated with text messages, social media, nontraditional work schedules, hundreds of channels on television and increased financial demands – more parents than ever are struggling to feel truly connected to their child. It is normal to become slightly removed in your involvement as your child becomes more independent, but children still need to know they have someone to turn to whenever life becomes challenging. Here are five tactics to help you become a more connected parent.
Implement a screen-free dinner.
More families than ever spend their dinner time sitting around a television set or playing with their cell phones. One way to become a more connected parent is by implementing a strict, no-screen policy for one hour during dinnertime. It may feel strange at first, but as you begin to make this policy a part of your regular routine, you and your family will naturally begin to open up more and experience a more connected environment.
Learn a new skill or hobby together.
Whether it is building model airplanes or learning to golf as a family, shared life experiences create greater feelings of connectedness in families. Make sure the skill or pastime you decide to pursue is something each member of your family is happy to learn or try. If you are having a hard time coming up with ideas on your own, invite your children to make suggestions until you each agree on your new hobby.
Spend one-on-one time with each child.
Connecting as a family can be relatively easy for some parents and children, however, more introverted individuals may need some additional time to truly connect. Having one-on-one time with each child in your family will allow you each to connect on a deeper and more meaningful way. Make sure whatever activity you choose to do together includes fun and also time for private conversation.
Make family night a weekly occurrence.
It is not uncommon for adults and children to occasionally feel mentally depleted. An easy way to respect everyone’s need to unwind and relax without the pressure of conversation and cooking is by doing a weekly family night, where you rent a movie, order take-out food and just relax together as a family.
Take an interest in your child’s passions.
Being interested in the things your child enjoys may seem intimidating at first, but it can be one of the most rewarding ways you ever connect with them. If your child is musical it may be a good idea to sign them up for lessons, if they like to build things a robotics club could help them fine tune their skills. When you take notice in the things that are important to your child and give them opportunities to polish their skills, they will feel more connected than ever because your involvement teaches them that their contribution to your family matters.
If you are struggling to slow down and connect with your children there are countless little habits you can shift each day to show your child how valued they are. Of course, one of the best things you could do to foster a more connected relationship is to speak with your child and ask them how they would enjoy spending their time with you!