JMJ- *Be a good listener. They will tell you more, if you just pause and listen. Give advice in a non-bossy know-it-all way. Talk about your own experiences, or what you would consider when they are talking about issues they are facing.
Ring the School Bell 87/180 days
I must confess, I have been a “happy gardener” instead of a “helpful teacher” this week. To get those plants in the ground where they belong, is just so exciting, and I had a helpful gardening assistant today, Sabrina.
Daily exercise for my brain, included helping Sarah with her Algebra 2, to be more specific, exponents and radicals.
French was a little frustrating for Melissa today, and so I stepped in a bit, which is quite easy since I am a native French speaker. (kind of why we chose French as our foreign language of choice) She appears to be coming down with something as she had a fever last night, and so I didn’t push her too hard today.
John attended a Confirmation meeting with Sarah, at our parish this evening. I brought some dinner to the parish hall after realizing all they had for refreshments were chips and donuts. He didn’t complain, but I am sure he appreciated the homemade meal.
Hurray! Sabrina’s college applications and auditions are almost finished. My calendar was so full of deadlines, and I was so afraid that I would miss something, but so far so good. We are going to application days at Mount St. Mary’s University on Friday, and then on to Loyola Marymount on Saturday, where she has an audition at 4pm. Last on the college application to-do list is an audition at Cal State University Northridge in early March. We have no idea what to expect, but are keeping our fingers crossed for lots of acceptance letters, scholarships and financial aid!
Bonding with your older child
I am so grateful that my daughters let me be a part of their lives. I hear so many situations where teenagers do not want to confide or share anything with their parents, and many shows on television reflect this. I really feel for parents who suffer this hardship.
I do not take our positive relationships for granted, and I know that behavior also depends on choices kids make and innate temperament (they do have a free will as we do, after all) so I do not want to seem like I am better than anyone else, or that I deserve to have children that trust and confide in me, and look to me for advice. (Personally speaking, I was not the easiest teenager to get along with) But I do believe there are simple things parents can do, to encourage a strong bond between them and their older children. Bewar of the naysayers who say this is not possible during the teenage years.
Neither am I saying that our parent-child relationships are perfect. But in our family we tend to disagree about the little stuff, and not too much the big stuff, which I find is manageable. For instance, I won’t say who, but one of my daughters recently got really mad at me one afternoon, because I was trying to divide up the “Buckeyes” (peanut butter/chocolate confections from a friend) when she basically wanted it to be a free-for-all. It kind of ruined the mood for the afternoon, but I can tell you that I would rather have a fight over Buckeyes, than about many other issues!
Ideally, these are ideas that can be implemented in early childhood, that just carry over to the later years. Here are things which have promoted closeness in our family:
- Take a break or spend time with each child, individually, every day. This can be as simple as a chat while driving somewhere, taking an exercise walk together, watching a show, hanging out on the swing outdoors, or crafting. Make it your thing together, something to look forward to. If you are blessed with a large family, maybe you can spend one-on-one time with your children on alternating days.
- Keep your children a part of running the household. Of course, they will complain, but ultimately there is much opportunity here for good conversation. Don’t delegate everything. Save some chores to do together. Fold towels, do the dishes, and cook together.
- Be a good listener. They will tell you more, if you just pause and listen. Give advice in a non-bossy know-it-all way. Talk about your own experiences, or what you would consider when they are talking about issues they are facing.
- Try to be the person you expect them to be, kind, honest, courageous. Don’t be afraid to say you made a mistake.
- Always speak about others in a good light. If you are frustrated with a sibling or another person’s behavior, rather than berate that person, talk about how you might be able to help that person, or encourage compassion by telling your kids to try putting themselves in the other person’s shoes. If you are not gossiping about others, your children will trust that you are not gossiping about them.
- Things happen. We are all human. We can not expect our kids to be perfect, only to learn from their mistakes. Don’t jump to conclusions or assume the worst. When issues come up, wait to hear the whole story. If you are not sure how to respond, wait, pray and ponder, and pick up the conversation later that day or the next. Try to recall your own teenage years before harsh words are said that can not be taken back.
- We have always prayed together as a family, and we still do, that God will give us the strength to be the “best version of ourselves” (author Matthew Kelly) I know that makes a big difference.
What works for you?
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** Note to the Reader- Today’s narrative is an excerpt of our family’s school journey from a few years ago, during my eldest daughter’s senior year in high school, a rather emotional year, with its many ups and downs.
May God shower blessings on your family as he has on mine. Annette