Don’t you love how nature provides us with a specific time each year to enjoy new beginnings after a long winter of hibernation? Everywhere we look we see evidence of “new life” appearing. Buds on the trees, blossoms on the flowers and the chirping of new “momma” birds filling the air…
Most of us follow the example set forth by nature and use this time to clean out closets, basements or garages…wherever we tend to accumulate and store our “stuff”. We subscribe to the task of “spring cleaning”…getting everything into top condition…fresh paint, shampooed carpets and glistening windows to name a few.
When it comes to our inner world, we instinctively feel a renewed sense of excitement and hope about our lives. We feel light-hearted and joyful. It’s as if it is in the air.
Many begin to formulate plans to improve those things that we have not been completely satisfied with. It could be an intention to find a better job, a better home or it could be to focus on just an overall improved way of life.
When it comes to our relationship with our children, spring is also the perfect time to examine where you are… the quality and depth of your relationship and make a commitment to start with a fresh perspective.
Begin by examining the components of your relationship.
- Do you spend quality time together?
- Do you engage in meaningful conversations that go beyond “How was your day?” or “What’s for dinner?”
- Is there the level of trust and respect that you desire?
Once you determine the areas you would like to improve upon, take them to your child. Share with him/her your thoughts and feelings about wanting to have a better relationship. Ask them what they would like to see change. Listen to what they have to say with an open mind and heart.
If doing this through conversation is uncomfortable for them, ask them to write it out on paper. And then ask them to work with you to formulate a plan to accomplish the improvements you both would like to see.
For some, this may seem far removed from the way you have related to your children in the past. However, that is exactly the point. Let’s let go of how it has been and create a new beginning.
Model to your child that when you realize something needs improvement you are willing to step into unfamiliar territory because it is important to you.
Demonstrate to them that you are able to see where you have made mistakes and be willing to correct them.
Too often parents want to appear perfect in their child’s mind. For many, acknowledging you can and have been wrong feels like a loss of credibility.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As humans we are all infallible. That is a fact of life. Portraying to your children that you are not perfect opens a door that allows them to relate to you on a level they feel more comfortable with.
Think about the people you feel a greater bond with…people who are more like you or people who are very different? Children are in a constant state of growth and change. We all are actually. However, hopefully, we have learned enough through our own growing up years so that we make fewer mistakes than we did as children.
The point is that when we strive to appear perfect we are setting our children up to see us in a light that is far removed from where they are rather than to see us as someone they can bond with and be comfortable openly sharing their thoughts and ideas with. Seeing us as perfect creates a divide…it puts a wall between us built out of fear of either letting us down because they know they are not perfect or fear that they can never live up to those standards.
As parents we must always keep in mind that our children will be impacted more by what they see us do than what we tell them they should do.
Let them see your weaknesses, share with them your struggles to be the best person you can be and the best parent you can be. Approach your relationship as a team effort, allowing for imperfection but always being willing to acknowledge the need to stop what isn’t working, correct it and begin again.
This will not be a transition that will happen overnight but until the first step is taken, the goal will never be achieved.
Imagine the quality of the relationship you dream of having with your children, the close bond with a foundation of honor, trust, mutual respect and unconditional love…and know that it is possible!