“The time for blaming, regretting and apologizing is over,” says Dr. Frank Lawlis in his book, Mending the Broken Bond. If you are ready to be the parent your child needs you to be, follow the steps below to put the past behind you, change your approach to parenting that has not worked, and focus on what lies ahead.
- Step Up and Be the Role Model Your Child Needs
Your job as a role model begins when your child is born — there is no avoiding that responsibility. It is important that you live up to your end of the parental contract. “You’ve got to stand up and give it your best at all times,” Dr. Lawlis says. “Most parents don’t realize that they are the most important figures in their children’s lives from day one.”
Your child has been studying you and been picking up on our moods since he/she was 1 month old. “As children grow older, they learn to judge what their parents’ responses will be based on moods, facial expressions, tone of voice and other subtle clues.”
You are your child’s guide to the world. It’s OK if you’re not perfect, but be your best. It’s important that your child sees your effort.
- Walk Your Talk
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything,” says Dr. Lawlis. “The effort and courage you put into following these values communicates their importance to your children.” It is important that you set out values, principles and guidelines for your child and make sure he/she understands that you expect him/her to follow them. Children get in trouble when they don’t have guidelines. “Until they are mature adults, they need guidance, and they will follow your example, whether good or bad.”
Strive to live up to the guidelines you set for your family. If you fail to do so, your children will call you on it and ask for an explanation.
- Open the Lines of Communication
"Believe it or not, children secretly want to put down the video game controllers and talk to you," Dr. Lawlis reveals. "They want to share their lives with you, and they want to know what is on your mind, but they are waiting for signs that you are listening." When your children speak to you, listen closely, but also watch what they are telling you through emotions, gestures and level of excitement. It is important to build a strong foundation of mutual trust and understanding while your child is young, so it is in place as he/she grows older.
- Always Find a Common Ground
"It is also vital that you establish a negotiating forum that allows both sides to walk away winners," Dr. Lawlis says. When you finish a conversation with your child, you should both feel the benefits. Play a game with your child where everyone rejoices when someone wins. "It's not about who wins or loses. It is the shared enthusiasm in support of each other."
For more information on rebuilding the relationship with your child, read Mending the Broken Bond, by Dr. Frank Lawlis.
TELL DR. PHIL YOUR STORY: Betrayed by a spouse or family member?