One of the greatest fears for a parent is losing control of their family over time, and becoming a disjointed group with forced cohabitation more than a celebrated and treasured union who love each other. Frankly, keeping this from happening takes more effort than one might think, but the effort is truly a labor of love. To be reactive, instead of proactive, when it comes to family, is to allow life to happen to you – and oftentimes it’s not in the way you’d prefer. Grab the bull by the horns, and take a few proactive steps in order to keep your family united in the long haul.
Quality Time is Imperative
You can’t expect your kids to want to be with you when they’re older if you never made an effort to be with them when they were younger. If you work all the time, or spend more time with your friends than you do your kids, your kids will likely do the same when they’re older. Why? You’ve shown with your actions where your priorities lie, so you can expect them to follow your example. On the flip side, if you go out of your way to really interact with them, to play with them, to talk with them, they’ll treasure that time with you and as they grow older, appreciate it more and more every day. Nearly everyone whose parents put in the time of day to be with them can say honestly that they’re thankful for it, and still love spending quality time with their parents to date.
While your kids may have a lot of similar traits, and many that you see in yourself, they’re not going to be identical replicas. They’re completely unique, with strengths and weaknesses that are specific to them and them alone. Learn what those are and celebrate the strengths, cater to the weaknesses with the purpose of making them stronger. If you have two athletes and an artist, make them all feel unique by celebrating in their unique accomplishments with them.
Speak the Truth in Love
Real talk is imperative for families if they want to stay tight through hard times. The world is a tough place, and growing up can be hard on kids at certain times. Death, relationships, money management, and other trials can cause major distress in a family, so being honest with what’s going on is key to teaching your kids how to understand these things, rather than just pulling them along for the rough ride without explanation. If something difficult is going on, let them know what that is in an appropriate manner, and let them know how it’s affecting the family.
Disciplining the kids is also a way to speak the truth in love. Set obvious rules and boundaries, and follow through on discipline. Every time you punish, let them know what they did, let them know you still love them, and tell them why the punishment is necessary in terms of character building.
Let Them Know They’re Loved, No Matter What
At the end of the day, showing grace is most important. You are not perfect, and your children are not perfect – you will screw up your parenting job from time to time, and they will do something wrong from time to time. Discipline is important, but what’s most important is that they know you love them even when they screw up. Show them grace, show yourself grace, and do it all at unexpected times. That’s when your kids will really begin to treasure your relationship and grasp the concept of a love that’s greater than anything they’ve ever experienced.
Parenting is an art. Great relationships and lasting, united bonds aren’t developed overnight. They’re developed over years, through time, love, grace and discipline.