We are who we are because of our connections with those in our lives, however extended or brief. Our core desire is to experience relationships and figure out how we belong in all of it. In the back of our heads, since first arriving, we each continue to ask ourselves – “How do I fit in?”, “What is my purpose, my value?” It’s our never ending quest. That is why it is so important for you, as a parent, to have this understanding in order to better support your child on their quest of figuring out how they too “belong” in the world they’re experiencing.
One of the best ways you can support your child in their “belonging” quest is to take the time to fully connect with them, daily. In our parenting intensive classes we call it A Moment of True Connection. This is a time when you give your child 100% of your attention (see instructions below).
Seems simple enough, but my personal observation tells me different. It seems like everywhere I go I see parents with their faces buried in their devices while pushing the stroller, pushing their kid on the swing, or just standing there talking away while making it look like they are engaged. Know this, your kid knows different. They know you are not present. I watched one father, cell phone in hand – talking away, pulling his young son around the park on his bike for 15 to 20 minutes. Dad just kept on talking, never looking down to see if his kid was still there. And Junior? He had the look of, “what am I doing here?” I know this is my judgement. I attempt to convince myself that not all parents unknowingly ignore their kids. I guess I just have to look harder. I did just recently compliment a group of parents at our local playground – there was not a cellphone out among them – they were fully engaged with their kids as they swung back and forth on the swings giggling and laughing together.
A Moment of True Connection
Here’s the deal. Each and every time you’re with your child or she comes to you to tell you something, you have three choices: ignore her, pretend to listen, or listen attentively. When you listen attentively, you’re having a Moment of True Connection. She gets 100% of your attention; you’re not thinking about what to have for dinner, an issue at work, or the argument you just had with your spouse. Moments of True Connection also work best when you’re at her level, looking directly into her eyes, touching her, and trying to feel what she’s feeling. These Moments are not times for lectures, advice or lessons. They’re times for heart to heart, not head to head, communication. In other words you need to be listening and saying things like, “Wow, that is so great!” “I see. Tell me more.” “How do you feel about that?” “Hmmm. (while nodding your head).” “Can you teach me how to do that?”
It isn’t humanly possible for every conversation with your child to be a Moment of True Connection. However, if you can arrange to have several of these moments each day, you’ll see a marked improvement in your relationship and you will witness your child feeling better about who they are and how they belong. Make it a priority to put whatever it is you are involved in aside for just that one moment. You’ll be so glad you did.
It’s all about the relationship.
As always, please leave a comment in the space below and share this within your own social media network if you are so moved.
Keep asking yourself, “What is it that I don’t know?”, in your quest to becoming a more effective parent.