In today’s digital society it’s easy to be overbearing in an attempt to keep your child safe. However, as this article from Psychology Today shows - the relationship a parent has with their child is central to an individual’s personal development and mental health. It is our job to develop the relationships our children need to be able to function as adults when they grow up.
As our children grow, our parenting style needs to evolve. It shifts from being the caregiver and decision maker, to that of advisor and enabler. When children are younger they look to their parents to make appropriate decisions on their behalf, as these children grow they turn to us to guide them, equip them with the skills and insight they need to make sound decisions for themselves. We still need to ensure that we are still safeguarding their interests and making sure they don’t engage in risky or dangerous behaviour, but as children make the transition from child to teenager to young adult, emotional support is usually sought, rather than offered.
Here are our three top tips for establishing healthy parent / child relationships
Talk about trustOur job as parents is to help children transition into adulthood. To do that positively, requires trust. Trust is borne out of transparency and freedom within boundaries. Be up front with your child about what your expectations are of them, the levels of behaviour that is required and the consequences if they don’t comply. Being open and honest with your child is key to building trust. This article looks at ways in which we can give our children more freedom and why it’s important for your parent / child relationship.
Give me some space!Even young children require a degree of personal space. A time or place where they can feel safe and able to reflect. By creating physical boundaries for our children, we are showing our respect for them as individuals. Although it may seem harmless to encroach on your child’s space when they’re younger, as they get older this can be perceived as interference. And rather than strengthen your relationship, this will only serve to add friction. It’s also important not to assume that your child’s need for personal space is the same as your own.
Regardless of their age, our children look to us for confidence and inspiration. They need someone to show them the way, yet encourage them to follow their own path. It’s a delicate balancing act and being a parent is fraught with anxiety: too much freedom versus not enough freedom; too much fussing versus not enough... When we get anxious about our kids, this can lead to us doing too much for them. It’s called over-functioning and it’s a sign that we’ve forgotten where we end and where our child begins. Yes, it’s true that as children grow they may be influenced more by their peers, but it’s still up to the parent to provide them with a confident, consistent, competent role model to look up to – however anxious we may feel on the inside.
For more information on the parent / child relationship, read our previous blog post