Saturday, August 31, 2013

Better Me Session: Building Healthier Relationships with your Children

Ongoing while I’m typing this blog post:
Rain pointing at random things...

Rain: HU DAT?
Me: Cookie Monster
Rain:  HU DAT?
Me: Rosita
Rain:  HU DAT?
Me: Grover
Rain:  HU DAT?
Me: Telly
Rain:  HU DAT?
Me: A chair

         This HU DAT started a few weeks ago and you can only imagine how thrilled I was that she was starting to really communicate... or in this case, ask questions. Curiosity stage has begun thus the birth of Little Miss Curious George here.

       But after a while, it can get tiring. Especially when I’m trying to finish work. But of course, as tiring as it may be, I still have to put on a smile and answer each and every HU DAT question that comes my way so she will always feel like she can come to me for anything. And I know this is only the tip of the iceberg.

      Which is why I feel blessed to be able to attend one of Coach Pia’s #BetterMe sessions about Building Healthier Relationships. I posted about building healthier relationships with your partner here. And this time I am sharing about relationships with our children.

     I know Rain is quite too young to apply most of these learning now but this is one of those cases where “earlier is better than late”.  At least this early on, I already have an idea on how to make my relationship with my daughter stronger when she is old enough to start feeling some deep emotions.

How will I know that my relationship with Rain is healthy?

First off, Rain should be able to express her true self. No editing because she’s worried I might not approve. I need to always remember that Rain, my little daughter, should not be the one adjusting to what I want her to be. I should be adjusting to what she wants to be. When she feels she can be real with me, that’s when I know I’m going the right way. I think one of the saddest things is when a child feels more free and can express herself more to her aunts / uncles and / or and friends than with her parents. I will never let that happen to Rain. Rain should be able to run to me and her dad when something is bothering her or if she’s curious about something. Rain should also feel respected by us parents, and vice versa. During Rain’s early age, It’s our job to be able to understand her, and not the other way around.

But there’s a thin line between having a really close relationship and being best friends. Coach Pia reminds us that as parents we still need to set limits, but at the same time give affirmation when needed so our children can build self-confidence. So true! This reminds me of something my sister-in-law shared with me before. That I can’t really be “best friends” with my daughter. Because “best friends” can give children the tendency to be a little too comfortable. (This applies to teenaged Rain by the way)

Example scenario: “Sure! We can still join the late party after the concert. My mom’s cool I’m sure she won’t mind.”

ALARM SOUND! I’m not saying Rain will do this but I can’t deny that it’s a possibility when I give her the vibe that I’m the coolest best friend she can ever have. Sure we will bond about her interests and stuff but I still need to remind her that I am her mother. I will still always put her best interest and safety at heart. As a mother, no one can take that away from me.

So what are the things I can do help build healthier relationship with my child?

I should have the ability to maintain and develop trust – You know when sometimes you feel like your child deliberately did something or said something to hurt you?  I remember during my mild post-partum stage, I felt like Rain hated me. She would always cry when I was holding her. Of course that feeling was just the post partum. My husband kept telling me that infants don’t know to hate yet. And so this taught me to not take any of my little child’s actions personally. Coach Pia says it will save us heartaches if we just drop all expectations from our children. Makes sense!

As a parent , I also need the ability to learn continuously. Accept that I still have a lot to learn  and admit to my child if I’m wrong this time.

Next again and again is open communication. Each person is unique. So are our children. If you have more than one child you would know for sure that they have different personalities. And so open communication is important to let each other understand each other’s personalities.

Next, the ability and to encourage cooperation and co-develop a plan. I should always make sure that Richie and I set out clear rules and goals and basic expectations with our child. You know that excited look from your child when you announce that you’ll be doing some exciting activity? If even after how many years your child still feels excited when you’re about to do something together, that’s a good indication that you’re on the right track. It’s a good idea to plan a date with your child every now and then. And don’t forget to say “Thank You for spending time with me” to show him how much you appreciate your time together and that you are not being hassled from your other tasks.

Next, ability to adapt and be flexible. We should always be open and acknowledge opinions, dispositions, priorities, etc of our children so they can really feel that they are understood At the same time we should have the ability to give unconditional love. Coach Pia shares that our ability to accept and affirm our children is a huge factor on how successful or unsuccessful our child will grow up to be. Wouldn’t it be nice if 20-30 years from now your child will be able to say “I wouldn’t be where I am now without my supportive parents”?

And last but not the least, is the ability to parent. Ability to parent means parenting your child free from fears, worries, anxieties, and insecurities. Your parenting skills should be 100% EGOCENTRIC FREE! What’s egocentric? Best word I could use to describe it is “labels”. Feeling you’re entitled to something because of your label (Labels in the blogging world: blogger / top blogger / ambassador of whatever product). Also, caring about what other people say. Kill your ego right now. Squish it like a bug! Raise your child in a world with no labels. We’re all the same. Like in school, what should matter is your child’s EFFORT, not his score. Ego definitely kills self-confidence.

 It has taken me almost 5 hours to write this simply because Rain kept pulling me to play HU DAT with her. I could have simply told the maid to take care of her for a few hours but I decided not to so Rain can feel she can approach me anytime for anything. Even for something as simple as asking me HU DAT.  And I hope she will continue to feel that way in the many years to come. 


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