Relationships can become very negative within families. This is often due to the many layers of challenges parents are faced with on a daily basis. At times we wonder what we got ourselves into and how we are going to cope.
It is never too late to review your relationships and make positive changes. If you feel you have become weighed down by the stress of life and that your parenting has moved into a place you had never expected it to be, then maybe it is time to think about a fresh start.
The following tips may support you to make changes to your parent-child relationships and aid you in the process of starting over:
- Think about what life use to be like. What did you like about parenting in the early days? What type of relationship did you dream you would have with your child? Was there ever a time that you felt you had a very positive relationship with your child? It is possible to regain that bond.
- Now think about what went wrong. What is stopping you from parenting in a way you would like to? What do you children need from you that you find you can’t give?
- Start by improving your relationship with yourself. What needs do you have? Can you identify your needs and explore how you can get them met. Self care is the key to a positive relationship with others. Think about what you are good at when it comes to parenting. Are you organised? A good planner? Do you stick to routines? Are you good at cooking, helping with homework? How patient are you? Can you tell or read stories? Do you enjoy playing games?
- Choose one thing you are good at- there is at least one – use this as a base to start a new relationship with your child. If, for example, you are good at telling stories why not start a weekly library trip? Focus on this one hour with your child each week. Encourage them to enjoy books. Find books and stories that interest you both. If you can have this one hour a week with your child that you both enjoy, it will support a positive feeling that you can build upon.
- Make a list of what you admire about your child. Try to wear rose coloured glasses for a week and only focus on what your child does well. Praise them when you see them do nice things, even if they are small. Focus on encouraging them and admiring them. At times all our energy goes into what our children do to upset us. Children generally don’t wake up with a plan to upset and annoy their parents. If we can focus on the positives and train ourselves to spend 70% of your energy on the positives you will see dramatic changes in your relationship with your child.
- Explore the issues that really challenge you in parenting your child and yourself. Pick one and look at what you can do to change things. If, for example, you find your child is not listening, think about how good you listen. Explore what stops you from listening. Sit with your child and name the issue – stick to one – and name how you feel about it. Ask your child how they feel about this issue. Together you can plan the changes to be made in the next week to acknowledge each other’s needs.
- Try not to blame, it takes two people to have a relationship. Own your part and support your child to make changes along with you. If your child is less than 3 years then focus on what you can do differently. When we make a change to our own behaviour it will have a ripple effect on those around us.
- Work on one issue at a time and introduce weekly family meetings. If your children are over 3 years old this is a very effective way to get everyone talking and communicating. Let everyone have a voice. You only have to listen. Hear what your children. Click here to read our ’10 Ways to Run a Family Meeting’.
- There is no purpose in blaming your children for how they behave. Children respond to the environment they live in. Hear what they say and then make a statement about what you would like to see happen. Can you have weekly dates with your children? Individual quality time is very effective and allows you focus on what each individual child enjoys. Group activities every other week are also great at bringing family together. These can just be fun things in the home, where there is calmness and room to talk.
- Try to focus on what you do well each day. Name one thing you do well or even partly well that day and sleep on that. In doing this, you will support yourself to make change and believe that positive change can happen.
Seek professional support if you are really struggling. Taking part in a parenting class can really help guide you and offer you support. One Family also offer one to one parent mentoring support. Do not do it alone, ask for help and achieve your dream relationship with your children.
This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.
LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Monday 28 September from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.
Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.