They will always be our children but will be adults one day. Time goes by so quickly! So it’s paramount to sow seeds of love, creativity, sharing, kindness, joy, peace, togetherness, encouragement and thankfulness now, as an inheritance of great value to be passed onto the next generation. I truly believe and want to briefly share why strong relationships with our children are important now. As a little girl I have fond memories of sitting around a table with a delicately embroidered tablecloth with homemade delights, placed in and around the most beautifully designed teapots and teacups. I would be there with my mum, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunties and cousins and neighbours listening with great excitement and anticipation, listening to the conversation and joining in wherever possible!
I loved these wonderful afternoons – they were comforting, encouraging, supportive and a very enjoyable place to be. Little did I know they were more than that – the time spent together created memories that at the time seemed insignificant – yet became very significant to me years later – they were seeds sown 40 years ago that I passed onto my children. However, I know that no relationship is perfect as we are all different, but I believe we would all love to strengthen our relationships with our children.
- Be flexible. I entered into the motherhood with the mindset that my children would be exactly like me in every way in regards to character, personality, beliefs, hobbies etc. Naïve I know. I didn’t take into account that as they grew older they would be their own person, with their own personalities/ways/choices/ likes/dislikes. Only a few years ago I realised that I had to be flexible in my approach towards them, as each year brought about some changes, and so accepting who they were as a person was a good recipe for keeping the peace and keeping a healthy relationship. Relationships with our children aren’t worth damaging or worse destroying over a difference of opinion like fashion, hobbies etc.
- Keep the conversation going. Over the years through doing many activities together like cooking, bushwalking, rock climbing, camping, sewing, craft, art, designing, etc. they were never done in silence – we were always talking and mostly, I was listening, ready to offer encouragement, love and only advice if they ask for it. I was amazed at the conversations we used to have as were doing these range of activities, conversations we never had sitting around a table, across from one another.
- Actively listen. To actively listen to what our children are saying and spend quality time together is also really one of the keys for strengthening and maintaining relationships. No one appreciates it when someone isn’t really listening to them and puts other things before them when having a conversation. So put down the phone, laptop, magazine or whatever it is when your children are speaking, in doing so, they will know they have your full attention and the message they are receiving is that they are far more important than those other things (which is completely true).
- Ask your children for their advice. Over the years I have read a lot of studies on mothers asking their children for advice. I didn’t realise how important it was to do this! Asking for their advice is actually really important for their self-esteem and confidence. This means even at a young age if you are doing for example some art- you can ask them which colour would be best, which cupcake decoration to use, the type of colouring medium to use- crayons, sharpies, pencils etc. As my children got older I really appreciated their advice in all sorts of topics and areas and they appreciated me asking. In doing so you are saying you value them as a person and what they have to say.
Whilst many people regard money, property, investments etc. to be some of the greatest assets to pass on to the next generation, I disagree. Spending quality time together, talking, listening and showing unconditional love are the most precious building blocks that strengthen that bond between parents and their children. I hope that through reading this you get the understanding of why our relationships with our children are so important and that even though our relationships may change over time, the unconditional love that is there for each other doesn’t. No matter if there are disagreements the bond that a parent has with their child can always be there.