Relationships: How to Stay Close with Your Children
In today's culture, we moms face numerous antagonists in the battle for our children's hearts. Whether it is the family's busy schedule, peer pressure, worldly values, or just their natural tendency to seek independence, many things will pull at our relationship and influence with our children. Yet, no matter how they may act as though they don't need us -- they do.
According to Focus on the Family, moms need to be vigilant in three key areas: protecting our children's emotional health, being a good role model and setting rules in the context of love.
Protect Your Children's Emotional Health
By staying close to your children emotionally and by creating a positive home environment, you can help protect your children's emotional health. But when you engage in self-destructive behaviors (substance abuse, harmful relationships), you are also affecting your children. By keeping yourself emotionally healthy, you will be creating a strong framework in which you can relate to and be a role model for your children.
Create a positive home environment by engaging in encouraging communication with your children when you first see them in the morning, when you first see them after school, during meal times, and just before they go to bed. Save the list of chores and serious issues for other times. Make each greeting and farewell you have with your children a positive one.
A study from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health showed that the three key emotions that parents need to convey to their children are warmth, love and caring. Create a loving relationship with your children, and try to connect with them on a daily basis by asking about their day, their interests, their dreams.
According to Focus on the Family, "Researchers at Harvard University have discovered that early bonding between mothers and sons is vital to the latter's physical health -- even 40 or 50 years later. College men who said they had not enjoyed a close relationship with their mothers were twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease, hypertension, duodenal ulcers and alcoholism by midlife."
Keep communication open by remaining nonjudgmental and patient when they come to you with problems. When your children are struggling emotionally, with peer pressure or with meaning-of-life issues, let them know you are available to talk with them -- no matter how you will need to rearrange your own schedule.
Be a Role Model for Your Children
Whether you notice it or not, your children are watching your actions more closely than anything else. Your own lifestyle is one of the most powerful influences you have on your children's lives. According to family expert Dr. James Dobson, "If you are honest, trustworthy, caring, loving, self-disciplined, and God-fearing, [your children] will be influenced by those traits as they age.… So much depends on what they observe in you, for better or worse."
So how do you become an effective role model? Live out the words you say and make sure your actions match your professed beliefs and values. Treat other people with courtesy and respect. Invest time with your children and have fun together.
Provide Valuable Instruction and Guidance
According to Focus on the Family, rules must be established within the context of a loving relationship. Adolescent expert Josh McDowell describes it as, "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion." Make sure that you maintain a positive, affirming relationship with your children as you instruct them in values, character, and discipline.
According to Dobson, the key to raising emotionally healthy children is to train them in the areas of character, self-discipline, respect for authority, commitment to the truth, spiritual development, and a strong work ethic.
Combating the influences of society can seem like a daunting task for a mother, but by committing to spending quality and quantity time with your children, living a life of example, and lovingly teaching them about the skills and traits needed for a successful life, you will find that your relationship will not only thrive, but it will guide your children into successful adulthood.
Source: Focus on Your Child (from Focus on the Family) -- http://www.focusonyourchild.com
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