Creating Healthy Relationships At Home
We were created for relationships. That’s why we’re often the healthiest and happiest when we’re enjoying strong connections with others. On the flip side, we often struggle the most when our relationships are damaged or broken. That’s why I firmly believe that discipline problems in the home are actually connection problems. Disrespect, dishonesty, anger, and other negative actions and attitudes in teens are the result of anemic relationships. So if we invest in creating a healthy environment in our homes, where relationships can grow and blossom, many of the teen issues we struggle with will work themselves out.
So how do we foster nourishing relationships?
1. By Laughing More
I love how Chuck Swindoll said it … “The most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity is laughter.” When was the last time you laughed with your kids? Some of us are sour, bitter, and stressed all of the time. And who wants to be around people like that? We need to lighten up! Let’s aim to be parents that are fun to be around. When teens spend time with us, they shouldn’t come away feeling angry, resentful, or bitter. Have fun with your kids. The families that laugh together usually stay together.
2. By Spending Time
A sure fire way to develop a healthy relationship with your child is to spend quality time with him or her. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. But it should be consistent. Take your child out for breakfast, coffee, or lunch — and turn it into a weekly habit. Even if they resist, you insist. Pushing for time together tells your child, “You are worth spending time with.” The value of quality time with your child cannot be overstated. I’ve said this on the radio, I put it in my books and I mention it almost every time I speak, yet I think this may be the least heeded advice I have ever given. But spending quality time with your child works! Give it a try. Do things with your kids. You will be amazed at the strong relationship that will result over time.
3. By Being Responsive
Healthy relationships are made when we respond, instead of react, to our teens. If most of our conversations with a child involve correcting, nagging, or criticizing, you can guarantee our teens will disengage. We don’t have to react to everything a teen says or does. It’s far better to simply respond. This will be hard when your son or daughter says:
- I believe marijuana should be legal
- I don’t think abortion is such a big deal
- I hate church
- I don’t like the people you hang around with
Our first response to these issues may be to snap at them and inform our teens why they are wrong. But before you go down that road, try saying, “That’s interesting. Why do you think that?” By responding with grace and understanding, you’re letting your kids process their thoughts and inviting them into a conversation, rather than subjecting them to a lecture.
4. By Learning About Your Family
Many parents still carry a photo of their child as a baby in their purse or wallet. There’s likely a photo gallery of your youngster on the wall. These pictures remind us of the joy of bringing our son or daughter home, and who they once were before they turned into hormonal teenagers. And that’s a good thing! But don’t dwell solely on who your child was. Spend time getting to know who they are. Become a student of your child. Learn about her favorite band, his least favorite class, who she looks up too, what he cares about, what she wants to be. Relationships get stuck in neutral if all we know about a person is who they were ten years ago. Discover and appreciate who your teen is now, and your relationship with your child will flourish.
5. By Playing Together
Play paintball, go ride horses, go fishing or hunting, go camping and gaze at the stars, or pull a stunt together. Get them up at midnight to watch a meteor shower. Live it up and enjoy life with your kids. If you are unable to participate in their favorite activities, then just be there to watch or help them in some way. The key is putting the two of you together on a regular basis.
Which of these tips will you implement into your relationship with your child this week? I recommend starting with number one. And even if you get nothing but grief from your teen at first, keep it up! Make time for them week after week. Eventually they’ll come around.
And remember that a healthy family doesn’t mean a perfect family. There will always be bumps in the road. But if you and your kids are connected, your family will be able to survive and thrive even when things get tough.