One of the most challenging roles I’ve held as an adult is being a mother to my sons. I take it seriously, thanks to the example set by my mother. She was loving, attentive and committed, which taught me to value parenting my little people.
I believe focused, uninterrupted time is key. In the midst of the daily routine, build in connecting “moments.” These can be in the mornings before day care, over family dinner or throughout the weekend. Our family is fortunate to have a yard, and the kids have a couple of small plants they must water every day—a perfect reason for us to explore and play outside. In these moments, my husband and I allow our sons to open up and share from their perspective.
We unplug so we can fully engage with our sons. We ask probing questions about emotions and check in on the day’s highlights and challenges. By listening, we encourage and model positive behaviors. Conversations with kids can be surprisingly rich—they just need space to share themselves with us.
Remember, each child is an individual. They vary in interests, strengths, opportunities, emotions and how they respond to environments and people. As kids explore and find their way, set guidelines and boundaries that are appropriate. As kids grow and their worldview expands, do community outreach together (garbage clean-ups, fundraisers, walks for a cause, volunteering, etc.) to teach them about social issues in a relational way. In my humble opinion, you cannot show children enough love and encouragement. We are an affectionate family. We tell our children how important they are to us and that we will always have their backs—no matter what. The reward is seeing our children become strong contributors to life and the world around them.
- Build focused, uninterrupted family time into each day
- Listen attentively and openly when your child shares
- Buy a small plant for your child to water each day
- Find support in a parent’s group
- Take time to talk with your child’s doctor