It can be so easy for us as parents to get caught up in our roles as mother or father. The day to day grind is filled with moments of exasperation, frustration and "because I said so, that's why!" We know what's best and we just want them to listen. If their room gets clean that day without 30 minutes of nagging, well, that's a victory right there!
It's easy to overlook the hearts of our children when we're so caught up in their actions and behavior. But actions stem from the heart. Even more than training our children to do their chores and behave properly, it's our job to teach our children that they are important members of a community. As members of that community, be it the family unit, a social network of friends, or school, they are important. The greatest gift we can give our children is teaching them that they have value.
How do we do that? How do we impress upon our children a sense of self-worth and value? There is truly only one way: Show them. When we, our child's greatest example, treat them with respect, we are teaching them that they have worth. When we make a conscious effort to build a relationship with our children, we teach them that they are deserving of our time and energy. We need to listen to our children, not just talk at them. We need to remember that they are people with dreams and desires, hopes and fears. Even more important, they don't know how to channel this inner dialogue. It's up to us to teach them how to focus on what is important to them and let them know that if it's important to them, it's important to us.
Does this mean indulging every childish whim? Heavens no. But it does mean that we need to take the time to open a dialogue with our children and have a genuine child-led conversation with them. I think everyone would agree that marriage takes a lot of hard work to be successful. Why, then, do we think that our relationship with our children should come naturally?
I've included several links at the bottom of this post for suggestions on how to open a dialogue with your children. The relationship between a parent and a child is one of the greatest love stories of humanity. Nurture it. Water it. Let it grow. You only have this kind of influence for a short time.
19 Things We Should Say To Children
20 Pillow Talk Questions for Children
10 Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child