When was the last time you had a longer deeper conversation with your school age kid?
This longer deeper conversation was a two way conversation that they participated in. There might have been laughter, a smile the excitement meant you talked over each other or time flew by. At the end of it, there was a positive emotion embrace or feeling.
Chances are like most families many of the conversations you are having are lecture and instruction based. Although efficient at getting the point across it’s not great to establish, maintain or cultivate that relationship. School age kids need connections to their parents and like us if they don’t have much in common with other people retreat.
It’s much easier now to retreat onto social media or chat with their friends than to hang out with the family. If that family complains, lectures and gives instructions all the time from their point of view- life’s not fun around you.
If most of the time you interact with your school age kid it is a lecture or instruction they are going to hide from you. When they see you coming they’ll brace themselves for what’s to come along with fixing an attitude. It’s no wonder that when parents go to have deeper conversations. It’s awkward, difficult and short.
What usually happens that doesn’t cultivate that relationship?
Most of what parents talk about is all to do with performance and not relationship.
- If all you talk about is how well they did on the test?
- Did they complete their contributions?
- Have they completed their homework?
- Did they finish….?
- How are you getting on with…
With performance, instruction and lecture as the major conversation in the family it’s easy to see how your school age kid thinks you value and love based on how well they perform.
The raised voice, the reminders and nagging, the exasperated tone of voice of frustration.
The smile, the hug the even tone of voice of happiness.
School age kids begin to feel that if they don’t do well they are not liked. This is so not true but if there’s little other conversation it is easy to see why they retreat.
How to cultivate that relationship
Instead, make sure to talk about relationship ideas too. Don’t stop talking about behaviour, contributions, school, rights and responsibilities, faith and clubs as you have been before.
Make sure you’re also talking about things that they care about ( and we should care about too!) like friends, fun, dreams, desires, relationships, thoughts, hurts, stories from their day, problems and things that didn’t work out as planned. These topics cultivate that relationship.
Doing this shows that your love is unconditional.
If all you hear is negative, wrong, mistake it’s easy to see why school age kids get the idea that parents don’t love them or they are failures.
Your actions. Your words. Your emotion if predominately negative gives….well a negative impression. Seek to demonstrate in the same way that your love is unconditional. It’s not a numbers game or equal or more/less as each child is different. It is tuning into your child to cultivate that relationship.
Here’s how it might sound right now-
Did you pick up that library book and drop off the overdue ones?
Oh no. I forgot.
What again! Remember to do it tomorrow. Those fines are getting bigger and…….
Although a necessary instruction/performance conversation that child isn’t going to be feeling very good. That parent isn’t feeling very happy either. Imagine an evening of conversations like this. It’s easy to feel a failure and you’ve had all your worst performances lined up and waved in front of you.
Don’t worry if you’ve found yourself in this place. Everyone does from time to time. Try this handy printable of topics to encourage cultivating those relationships. Without good relationships, it’s really hard to have those difficult conversations and be confident about future decisions.
Imagine instead breaking that cycle and yes having the necessary conversation but also having those other relationship conversations that build up, encourage and nurture your child’s spirit.
….after watching a show together.
Never seen a job like that before? Out on the sea all the time. I don’t know if I’d want that?
…. It kind of looks cool. I love the water.
Yes, you do!
I think it would be fun to have your own boat and sail like that. …………..I’m going to get a boat like that. Do you think they are expensive?
It’s always great to see them smile.
- Cultivate that relationship with your boys