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7 Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Children

By September 17, 2016Children, Family, Parenting

Most parents want to develop a close, lasting bond with their children which goes beyond the years a child lives in the home. Having a relationship with children which transcends time begins early in a child’s life as the heart of the child bonds with the heart of the parent.

I’m happy to say my boys are grown, but they are two of my best friends. And, they call or text frequently to discuss life and seek my input. I couldn’t ask for more. I realize now there were some things we did along the way which built the bond we have even today. Some of it may have been “accident” on our part. They don’t have to be for younger parents.

Here are a 7 tips to help build strong, lifetime relationships with children:

Choose activities to do together that they enjoy.

It’s a great plus if they enjoy your hobbies, but you will have better success in connecting if you do the things with them they enjoy most. Don’t try to create a clone of you. When they begin making choices for themselves, learn to love their activities and play times.

Don’t force yourself on your children.

As children get older and begin developing outside interests, do not be the parent who always has to tag along. Be there if you are invited, but allow your children some freedom to explore. As they get older, welcome other adults you trust to invest in them. This is one of the great values of being active in a local church. Men I admire made huge impacts on my boys.

Remain accessible to your children always, but especially during busy or stressful times.

Children cannot handle or understand stress the way adults can. They just know when they want or need their parents. Make sure you are available as much as possible when the desire strikes them. We made sure our boys knew they were never an interruption and we were always there when needed. This meant building our schedule around time planned with them. The busier I was and more stressful life became, the more I protected our family time. We wanted our boys to know we would always be there for them – even when they made mistakes. Never cause your child to question your accessibility.

Communicate on their level and with their interests.

Understand the language of their age and learn about the things they have interest in doing. I never knew much about soccer or wrestling, but one of our boys did, so now I do. Wanna wrestle?

Learn to love their friends.

This is huge and will show you value their choices in friends and relationships. We sometimes had to gently guide them and we even distracted them from some friends, but we wanted them to love everyone. Be patient with them. They should not be expected to have the maturity of an adult yet. They will make mistakes and will not always make the decisions you want them to make. Help them form good values then honor their ability to make choices while you are still there to help them recover when they make bad ones. They’ll need good decision making skills for a lifetime.

Slow down.

Life races by and before you know it the kids are gone. Believe me when I say this – it passes fast. Too fast. In your race to provide them all the right opportunities, all the stuff, make sure you give them what they need most. – YOUR TIME.

Be intentional.

When our boys were young I didn’t have a smart phone. It was probably a good thing they weren’t around yet. But, I was busy, as all parents are. I worked hard running a business we owned, was active in dozens of professional and spiritual activities, including holding public office, but I rarely missed a ballgame or practice. Their time went on my calendar first. FIRST. (Even as adults, my boys still have the opportunity to interrupt just about any meeting with a phone call.) And, I had no problem saying no to other opportunities. There are always unexpected interruptions, but those should be the exception not the every week occurrence. (And, I still contend pastors can make this commitment. There are others in the church who can help with ministerial responsibilities.) 

To be clear, none of these are excuses to give children everything they want or to allow them to set the standards for your home. I believe parents should parent. For more on my parenting philosophy here read other posts under the category of PARENTING.

Connecting with children in a way which lasts beyond the years they must connect with you, however, begins early in the child’s life and takes a consistent effort on the part of the parents. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the fact I have known parents who seemingly did everything right and things didn’t turn out as they had hoped. Their children went astray, they are no longer close – I even talked to some godly parents recently who said they haven’t talked to a child of theirs in four years – even though they’ve tried. Children are unique individuals – all of them – and, just as Proverbs are principles, not promises, this is what I’ve attempted to share here. When you’ve done all you know to do – pray like crazy! 

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • jimpemberton says:

    This is a great list! Here's a couple more from my experiences:

    * If you are still married to their other parent, let them know that their other parent is more important to you than they are. If that seems counterintuitive, you have to understand that it gives the child a sense of security to know that Mom and Dad are ultimately unified for their best good.

    * Wherever possible, include your kids. That is to say that unless you need to get away with their other parent for some "away time," you kids want to know what it means to be you so that they can be like you (unless you are a terrible person and won't admit it). If you want your kids to trust you when they get older, show them that you are trustworthy by conducting your private lives transparently in front of them in real world situations. If you are a terrible person and know it, then admit it to your kids so they at least know you want something better for them and that you aren't worth imitating. If you are a terrible person and don't know it, then you probably aren't reading this anyway.

    Regarding that last point, my daughter's boyfriend came to visit again this weekend. He's in college studying to be a youth pastor. My wife and I had been away to celebrate our anniversary and knew he was coming. He beat us to the house at which point my oldest son was supposed to play chaperone. We went in to hugs from our kids and to find our three with my daughter's boyfriend and my oldest son's girlfriend all happily playing a table-top game together. Why weren't they at odds with each other for any reason, much less being required to hold each other accountable? Because they saw that we do the same thing with each other and have participated in that kind of family life from the beginning. So take your kids along with you and include them. Show them by word and deed how a family is supposed to behave with each other.

    * Bonus tip: Learn from them. Many of the items in this article require learning something from them. As they grow, they will learn things you don't know. So just as you must learn about them, have them teach you what they know that you don't. This shows them that what they have learned has value to you and that they are valuable in general.

  • Lovely piece of work done here. Thanks for sharing.