Relationship building takes time and effort. Parents must work hard at developing a strong and dynamic relationship with each of their children. Our children grow and change with each new stage of development, which challenges us to adapt to new rules and circumstances. Strong parent-child relationships, however, have certain qualities that remain constant. They are built on safety, unconditional love, mutual respect, acceptance and flexibility.
Safety is at the core of bonding and self-regulation. It starts when a newborn infant’s needs are met by his parents. He learns then that his parents are consistently there for him, providing food, warmth, comfort, love and stimulation. Through these interactions, a trust is built that will last a lifetime. It forms the solid ground of the parent-child relationship and the child’s emotional wellbeing.
Unconditional love is a direct result of the trust that was built. Children need to know that that love will not falter through their ups and downs, and that their parents will always be there to support them emotionally no matter what. They need to feel that failures do not dictate whether they are worthy of the love they receive from their parents. Parents can nurture this quality by being emotionally available for their children, trusting them to explore their world, and allowing them to learn from mistakes.
Parents often feel that their children should respect them. The respect needs to be reciprocal. Children need to know that their opinion, feelings, and rights matter. Respect starts with good communication. When you truly listen to your child’s needs and let him know that he is being heard, you are showing respect to your child. When you acknowledge his individuality, even when it differs from yours, you are letting him know that you respect who he is. When you set clear expectations and provide explanations and guidance when they are not met, you are reinforcing the mutual respect between you and your child. When you expect him to treat you with kindness, and you show him the same consideration, you are fostering a relationship based on mutual respect.
Acceptance is an open-ended concept. It means embracing your child’s individuality, meeting him where he is at, and cherishing his unique qualities. It also means accepting his limitations and flaws while gently helping him through hurdles.
Flexibility means accepting that your child tomorrow might be different from who he is today. Only the child he is in that moment can guide your approach and your parenting. It also means parenting mindfully with an understanding that nothing in raising kids is ever set in stone. Techniques that work for someone else’s child might not work for our own children. Parents always have to adjust their parenting with the evolution of their child. When something does not work we keep looking for possible solutions. We should stay open to new approaches and possibilities.
The parent-child relationship is a complex one. A solid foundation can help make it stronger with each stage of child development. CDI’s therapy team is well versed in parenting techniques and creative approaches. We can help you find parenting solutions uniquely tailored to your child and your family’s needs.