Summer is an excellent time for parents to try something new with their kids. As I present parenting workshops there is one common thread in each workshop. I am seeing families under so much pressure, I think things are going to explode With all the continual pressures that currently exist in our families, it is important to figure out the best places to put our parenting energies. This requires parents to make a few changes. I challenge parents to try the following four ideas throughout the next three months of summer. As parents, I believe you will see changes in the dynamics of your family.
1. Plan Fun, Positive Activities on a Daily Basis
*Spend time together often as families, doing something you all enjoy
*It does not have to be an expensive vacation
*Get outdoors to make you feel more vibrant about life
Watch a baseball game
Walk the dog together
Frisbee at the park
All of this leads into number 2 suggestion
2. Strengthen Your Relationship
A strong bond with your child is important. Why?
When your child is confronted with critical decisions, it is the strength of your relationship that will make the difference in your child's ability to resolve them.
Don't assume just because this is a parent/child relationship that all is well or that love/respect occur naturally. Take stock in your relationship.
Do we enjoy spending time together?
Do we have plenty of things to talk about?
Are we able to relax together?
Do we share any common interests?
Try this exercise: As you assess the situation, make note of every interaction and conversation. Jot things down. Write down what you say and your child's response.
As you analyze your data, notice the patterns that begin to emerge.
This eye-opening exercise should give you an understanding of your relationship and explain why your children are responding to your requests. If the conversations you are initiating consist mostly of negativity or nagging, the responses you get from your child will also be negative.
Think about the people you as an adult choose to be around.
Why do you think you choose the people you do?
The people I like to be around have something in common with me. Either we like to do the same activities or have vivid conversations or we laugh together. It is not someone who takes the role of a superior or a boss that is telling me what to do.
Too often we as parents end up alienating our children because we become "the order giver". Your children will not want to interact with you if they know that every conversation they have with you will be something they do not want to hear. Yes, you are the parent and the one ultimately in charge of running the home, but try to run your home like a democracy, not a dictatorship.
3. Create a Safe Haven in Your Aura and Your Home.
*A place where there is not anger, no yelling, no contention
*A place of trust, love and fun.
*A place where your children are relieved to be, a peaceful environment.
4. Let Go of Rigid Expectations (Parents don’t want to hear this but once you do it, family life becomes so much easier)
*Get rid of the notion of the perfect family.
I hate to say lower your expectations, but that is sometimes necessary. Family life is sometimes like a roller coaster with highs and lows. Learn to see the fun in it. Children will make mistakes. Don’t get angry or embarrassed. Be patient with them and be proud of their small steps to improve.
*With summer vacation everyone is home. More people means more confusion. Arguments, teasing, fighting will occur. Don’t over react. Many times when arguments arise it is possible to let your children work it out.
*An immaculate house is not always possible. You don’t need to live like slobs, but our homes cannot look like a Parade of Homes model unless you have a full time housekeeper.
Basically I am giving parents an excuse to relax; to have fun and enjoy their kids. I am allowing parents to “play hooky” from their regular schedule for 3 months. Then to assess the aura in their home.
Children who come from homes like this are happy. They have less illnesses. They are successful in school, successful in careers, and successful in relationships.