Know! To Strengthen The Connection

Most people desire to be connected to others. That’s why social media sites have become so popular, especially among youth. But more important than your child having 500 facebook “friends,” there is a critical need to connect with you, the parent. It is a child’s connection with his/her parents (for better or worse), that will serve as a backdrop to all other interactions and impacts decision-making in the present and in the future.

Children whose relationship with their parents can be characterized as consistent, warm, kind, loving and stable, are much more likely to flourish in other areas of healthy adolescent development. These children are more likely to; initiate positive social interactions with others, respond to situations with empathy, be cooperative with others, exhibit a higher self-esteem and make healthy life choices, including the decision not to use alcohol and other drugs.

Know! to enhance the parent/child connection with these relationship builders:

Spend Time Together: Hanging out and having fun with your child is critical in building and fostering a close connection. Whether it is heading out for ice cream or spending a Saturday afternoon together relaxing and watching movies at home, enjoy some hang time with your son or daughter.

Include Friends: What better way to get to know your child’s friends than bringing them along on a family outing or inviting them over for dinner. It is also important to get to know the friends’ parents.

Listen: Put down your iPhones and listen. Our kids want to be heard and they want to feel like what they say matters to you. Listen attentively, then ask questions to show your interest.

Talk: Your child wants and needs to hear from you on a variety of topics, including alcohol and other drugs. Kids whose parents talk early and often with them about not using substances are 50% less likely to smoke, drink or use other drugs in the first place.

Set Future Goals: Research shows that when youth set their sights on future goals, be it a position on a sports team or an academic scholarship, they are more careful about the choices they make.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It is important to both give it to your child and insist on it from your child. This is an occasion where if you give, you are much more likely to receive.

Share Expectations: The majority of youth report wanting to please their parents. Children whose parents are clear on their expectations are more likely to make better choices.

Eat Dinner Together: While it need not be anything fancy, studies show that sitting down together to share a meal and conversation strengthens family connections.

Adolescence is a time of many changes and big decision-making. Be sure to talk regularly, remain engaged in your child’s everyday life and continuously strive to strengthen the connection. A strong and positive relationship now will serve you and your child both today and down the road.