“Kids spell love T-I-M-E.”
The relationship between two people can vary from moment to moment.
Last night I sat in listened in on my son’s piano lesson. Then we went together to martial arts.
At each event, I played two different roles. The former, I was the father – learned, observing, sitting on the sideline, correcting, and to a small degree teaching. The latter, I was a student – learning, listening, participating, trying, and failing.
At each event, my son was a student.
The key difference was that our relationship changed between events. Even though we were father and son throughout the evening, our relationship changed from teacher/ student to peer/ peer. It’s an important distinction.
Anecdotally, I see too often parents stay in the role of teacher/student and not spend enough time with their kids in the peer/peer relationship. It makes it harder for children to relate to their parents as they get mature into the teenage years. That can create deep fissures.
Here are a few ways I’ve found, for parents to invest time as equals with their children:
- Reading aloud – Yes, the parent is the mature reader, but you discover the story simultaneously.
- Start a new-to-both hobby together – I started martial arts with my teenagers six months ago and it gave us something we could do together once a week. Something none of us had done before. Often the kids do far better than me.
- Give them choice – As a child ages, they want to take more and more control. It’s natural. Don’t hyper focus on one activity that you do together. Give a child choices.
- Play a game together – A game with the kids can level the playing field. Pun intended.
- Travel – Go somewhere new. Like a story, discovering a new destination together can be stimulating.
- Listen – Just listen. Don’t talk. Hard, I know.
- Let the child teach the parent. – What better way to teach learning, than to learn.
There will no doubt be others, and I’d love to hear your ideas on how to spend time as equals with your children.
I won’t be so arrogant to think that a few hundred words on a blog post will cure every parent/child relationship. I’m also not going to say that my relationship with my children is perfect. And I’m not going to say that a parent shouldn’t be a parent.
But it’s beneficial for a parent to spend time with their children as peers so the children can relate to the parents as people. It helps build trust and understanding.
It builds relationships.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Took my son to his piano lesson, then did martial arts with him afterwards. Two events. Two relationships.