I have always been conscious, that in a family of more than one child, there is always the challenge of splitting your time and attention between them all equally. It is true that some kids are easier to connect with, and some kids demand more of you, and it’s possible there will be one child who likes to fly under your radar. One who will quite happily allow others to steal the limelight, so to enjoy the experience of being unobserved.
I have one such child. One who avoids confrontation, who would prefer to figure out a problem on their own, rather than come to me for help, and is so independent that probably fancies growing up without much parental involvement fantastic. To have a self-sufficient child is helpful for a busy mother of four, however this independent spirit has often meant a challenge in knowing how to connect. When you are busy meeting so many needs, it’s easy to overlook someone who isn’t calling out for help.
Regardless of personality traits, all of us need positive relationships to thrive, and while a teenager will say and do things contrary to this, it is important to keep connection; you never know when they will reach out to you.
So I’ve had to be creative in finding things that we enjoy doing together; things recreational and unique to our relationship. I’ve also had to be intentional about seizing moments that are just the two of us; relating one on one is so important. This can be a challenge, when you are time poor or when others demand attention; but it’s not impossible.
I’ve managed to find two times in my week, where it’s just the two of us, and two unlikely things that we enjoy doing together. Firstly, she is my only early riser, and like myself, enjoys 30 minutes each morning to eat breakfast, while the rest of the house sleeps. She, being more of a doer than a conversationalist, meant I wanted to find something we could do over breakfast that facilitated connection. So I asked her, “How do you fancy doing a crossword?” (I know…it sounds like a Grandmothers idea, but she said yes!) Who knew you could get a 13 year old, who doesn’t like English at school, to learn and enjoy doing an early morning crossword with her mother.
But what we really love doing together, that none of my other kids would ever do with me, is to sing along to Adele. I love Adele and she loves Adele, and we both enjoy singing. Once a week, we have 20 minutes alone in the car together. The moment the car is ours, and there’s no competition for whose in charge of the music, we switch to Adele. We sing at the top of our lungs. (Personally, I think our rendition of Rolling in the Deep particularly good.) Interspersed with our singing we have a chat and laugh; especially at the fact all her songs are about tragic romances. But what makes it special is finding a point of connection. It’s frivolous and short lived, however we look forward to it each week. Simple things shared between the two of us.
At each stage of their childhood, I’ve had to adapt and change; finding different ways and opportunities to connect with each of my children. Age appropriate activities that have fostered relationship. There have been times when I haven’t known how to do this well, and busyness has meant I’ve neglected them at times. However, I’ve always taken comfort in the truth that a new day brings a new beginning and a new opportunity to make a change and try something different.
How do you connect with your kids?