Amicable parent-child relationships are hard to find these days. In many families, parents and their children simply blame their distance on the generational gap and do not make the effort to improve it.
Teenagers believe that their parents will never understand them, while parents feel that their teenagers will only understand them after they grow up.
As a result, the gap is just left there, never bridged.
But having a close relationship with your child is actually achievable if you take the following steps!
Check Up on Them Frequently
Many parents know to do this and ask their child about their day when they come home. But they are left confused when their child brushes off the conversation and replies with an abrupt “it was okay”.
Parents then get discouraged and feel that it is impossible to hold a conversation with their child.
The mistake that many parents make is not actually listening to their child. If your child is defensive in sharing about their life with you, chances are that you might have shut them down before, be it unintentionally, when they were trying to communicate with you.
When listening to your child, don’t be quick to rebut or nag at them. This will make them lose a sense of security when confiding in you.
Be In Touch with Their Life
Children feel most loved when their parents are healthily involved with their life. Show concern about the things that they tell you and stay engaged in the conversation.
Take the effort to remember their interests, struggles, friends, etc. They might feel hurt when they have to constantly repeat what they told you or when you have no idea about what’s going on in their life.
Uninvolved and neglective parents will build a permanent wall from their child. So, don’t just brush it off when your child is telling you their random fact of the day!
Don’t be Overprotective
But hold on, don’t overdo it! You shouldn’t be too involved in your child’s life.
As your child grows up, they will be faced with more experiences and decisions to make. Many parents try very hard to protect their child from making what they deem as the wrong decisions.
However, these parents fail to realise that being overprotective will result in their children not being able to trust themselves to make correct decisions on their own. Their children may also end up learning to hide secrets after secrets from their parents.
Children learn best when they make mistakes and learn the correct way. Loosen your grip, give them space and allow them to make their own decisions, experience the process and face the consequences.
Don’t Just Say “No” All the Time
Abusing your authority as a parent is a recipe for a strained relationship with your child.
Avoid putting out statements like: “I am your parent, you must listen to me,” because then, there would be no reasoning for your child.
Parents are not always right, and often, they don’t “know best” as they think they do. Sometimes, a child would know themself best and are capable of making better decisions for themselves.
Of course, you should guide them, but allow them to have a say in their own life too. Explain to them your point of view, listen to theirs and come to a compromise.
For example, you can let them hang out with their friends as long as they have finished their homework before that.
If you always say “no” to them, they would instinctively not go to you when they need advice. This is where many children will go astray, because they begin to find comfort solely in their peers and not from their parents. They then eventually stop communicating with their parents altogether.
Allow your child to associate positivity with you so that trust can be built.
Don’t Pin Your Expectations on Them
One of the biggest mistakes that parents make is pinning expectations on their child without paying attention to who their child really is.
Many parents made early projections for their child even before their child was born: “I want my child to be a doctor/lawyer”, “I want my child to take over my business”.
But your child could be a really talented artist, swimmer or dancer!
Remember that your child is their own individual, with their very own dreams and aspirations; be supportive of them.
They might want to pursue something that you’re not confident of, but there is a higher chance of them achieving more when they pursue the things that they are passionate about, instead of when they are forced to achieve your dreams and aspirations for them.
Schedule Family Time
The Covid-19 pandemic has provided us with more precious opportunities to spend more time with our loved ones, so make good use of it!
Checking in with your child if there’s anything that they need can make them feel cared for. Have they expressed their wishes to go cycling, or kite-flying?
If not, going shopping and getting them necessities like stationery and clothes is also a great way to show your love.
Many families can’t afford the time to always have family outings. This is why it is important that your home is a cosy and conducive place for your child to feel safe and happy.
You can even consider having forms of entertainment at home — such as PlayStation, karaoke systems and movie streaming services — so that you and your child can conveniently bond at home frequently.
If everyone is still too busy to engage in fun activities, having meals together can also suffice as it is a good way to catch up amidst everyone’s busy schedules.
The generation gaps are real and many parents find it difficult to understand and relate to their children. Apart from spending more time together as mentioned above, one way that you can learn to understand them is by being on their social media platforms.
It’s weird to wrap your head around the fact that strangers online might know your child more than you do.
The younger generation is now mostly on social media platforms TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. You can try creating an account to have an idea of the type of content that they are consuming and producing, as well as their language and slang.
It’s good to make sure that your child is being safe on the internet, but don’t be overly critical over what they post, or it would result in a barrier between you and your child. Many teenagers would end up blocking their parents from their social media accounts or simply creating another account.
As your child grows up, it gets increasingly difficult for you to communicate with them as they start to form their own ideas and perspectives from their ever-changing environment.
Hence, it is important to keep in touch with your child so that you know what’s going on in their life.
Parenting is tricky because one wrong step could push you miles away from your child, and sometimes parents don’t even realise that they are pushing their child away.
We hope that this article has been useful for you in learning how you can build and maintain a close relationship with your child.
If you’re reading this and want to grow close to your parent, read our article on how you can do so!