Posts Tagged ‘bonding’

There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.” William F. Halsey It has become more and more common for mom’s to take on the mother and father role. Besides the high divorce rate, fathers are often away as it is sometimes more financially beneficial to do so, than to be working from home. Sometimes even the moms have to travel too. A child could be acting out as a result of feeling like the father is absent, often away from home, or not taking the rightful place as head of the home. My friend was shocked when her husband came home from a business trip and her young son said, “Look mommy, that uncle has come to visit againHere are some dynamics to watch out for when dad travels often: • Mom struggles to share the responsibilities once dad is home. She has had to cope making all the decisions and being in control of the running of the house and single handedly coping with the discipline. On dad’s return, it becomes a mind-shift to adapt to the different roles again. • Dad feels guilty and wants to compensate for being away so tends to indulge the children. • Mom has ‘had enough’ and wants to hand over the responsibilities and have a break, while dad has preconceived ideas of ‘resting’ because he ‘has been working so hard’. And so the clash begins. • Dad comes home bearing gifts, and mom is seen as the ogre. • Mom allows children to sleep in her bed while dad is gone. They are chased out on his return and he becomes the ogre. Unless these issues are raised and discussed ahead of time, conflict can arise. The excitement and anticipation of his return can become a disaster with unmet expectations causing a blow up. Set up clear agreements of who is responsible for what in dad’s absence as well as when dad returns. Try to resume the same routine every time dad is home. Discuss issues and routines like: • Does dad do the bathing every night? • Does he take the children to school? • Does he help with cooking? • Who takes over paying the accounts, • Is the role of disciplinarian shared? When boundaries are established, then there is less chance for unmet expectations, which lead to disappointments and stress. The goal should always be to create “Peace in the Home” How to keep in touch Skype sessions are a great way to stay connected and be remembered. If your children are still under 8, you can tell them adventure stories on Skype instead of just asking, “how was your day?” It could be an adventure story that you make up as you go, with interesting events that could carry over to the next time so that they wait in anticipation for your next call. Or, remember an event they shared with you, like their friend’s dog that died, and ask them about it. With older children, show an interest in their hobbies or sports. You could ask questions like, “What was your highlight and lowlight this week?” “What was the best meal mommy made this week?” Also with the younger ones, you can record something before you leave. Whether it be a story that you have read or a message that you want them to listen to. They will enjoy hearing your voice. A count down calendar, like an event calendar, will help them look forward to the day you come home, with excitement. Resist the temptation to come home with presents as you walk in the door. Otherwise the tune you will hear is “What did you buy me?” instead of, “Hello dad!” Try not to over compensate because of your absence but rather step right up to the plate of being the parent in the house and insist on first time obedience and respect. Do not hesitate to dish out a consequence when necessary, then you can enjoy the rest of your time together. Otherwise they know they can get away with murder as soon as you arrive home. This can be extremely frustrating for your wife as she has had to handle the disciplining on her own and it then seems as if you are the friend and she is the “meany”. Let the children realize that you missed your wife as much as you missed them – this will give them a sense of security. “Remember to be nice to your children because they are the ones that choose your old age home one day” – Anon
Dr James Dobson says God gave you a child for 12 years to learn to love him before he turns into a teenager. Well, there are a few things one can do to stay connected with your teenager. It is important to recognize the changes not only in their bodies, but also in their needs as they grow. They need to be treated as miniature adults and with the same respect you would like to receive. The best way to bond with your teenager is to have fun. Find out what appeals to your child. Here are some suggestions you can try: Cook together My daughter once said, “mom, you’re so lucky, you get to cook what you feel like eating every night”. Why not let your teenager choose the meal once a week, but then you cook together. I found that my teenagers developed a love for cooking this way (and today their spouses thank me!!!) Teaching them to make a perfect white sauce is very handy for all types of meals – macaroni cheese, sauces for veggies etc. Or let them be in charge of baking or making the dessert. Meal times are a great way of including children in the chores. Each child could have a turn helping with making dinner then when they are old enough, they could be responsible for one meal a week. They need to preplan the menu though to ensure that mom has had enough time to have the ingredients available on that night. Encourage them to try new recipes out of a recipe book or searching on the Internet. If they are being irresponsible with this chore, then mom and dad could take that night to eat out but take the amount that it cost, out of his pocket money. I am sure the next week he would be very eager to take his turn to cook. Play board games once a week Some teenagers enjoy something challenging like chess, while others would enjoy fun ones like Cranium or card games. Discuss ways of earning money What about bottling home made gingerbeer, making homemade fudge or brownies to sell at school, or to the tuck shop? What about a business where they feed the animals or water the indoor and outdoor plants of people that goes on long holidays? Surf the net together and work out a strategy. Exercise
  • Most teenagers are concerned about their weight. A nice long walk or bike ride can be a great opportunity to bond. Shop together for the appropriate clothes and make it a regular outing.
  • Play a sport together, like squash, tennis, even darts or table tennis for the not so energetic. If you’re not much of an athletic type, try researching the sport your child is interested in.
  • Find out about the icons in that sport or interesting information and facts. If your child is interest in for instance golf, find some online tips to improve his swing or offer to drive the golf cart, or watch him play tennis and go for a milkshake afterwards. This is where conversations grow organically.
Chit chat Casual talk is the best. Not probing or judging. Just chatting. Take out some old families pictures and reminisce about fun holidays.Is there anything in particular your child has an interest in? Try and find out more. Google it and share your findings. Even if you don’t totally agree, try and see it from his perspective. There are ways of discussing matters of interest without having to agree or condone these things. If you battle in this area, you may want to learn some listening techniques before you venture onto a touchy topic. Home Movie Night  Have a surprise home movie night – in the middle of the week! With popcorn popping without the lid! Add double thick homemade milkshakes to that, and you have a winner! Window shopping can be a lot of fun This can be used to have those “wouldn’t it be nice if we had one of those” moments. This way they can see that you also want things you can’t have. This is especially nice when it ends with a pizza! Or, let your teenager take YOU shopping. You don’t have to spend a cent. Just let her choose clothes for you to try on, have a make-over at the make up counter and some different perfume. Try on hats, shoes, a bag – whatever! See what she thinks would look nice on you. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised. Try suggesting different occasions to dress for. Then, swop around and give her a turn. Do you have a lot to do tonight?
  • Does your teenager have a messy room? Make a deal.
  • Work together helping each other instead of each one with his or her own task. It goes much faster if you have someone to talk to and make it fun. The time will just fly by.
  • Meal times are a great way of including children in the chores.
  • Each child could have a turn helping with making dinner then when they are old enough, they could be responsible for one meal a week.
  • They need to preplan the menu though to ensure that mom has had enough time to have the ingredients available on that night.
  • Encourage them to try new recipes out of a recipe book or searching on the Internet.
Family Outings At this age they love to belong to a group or a club. Make sure that your family is the ‘group’ they enjoy spending time with. Occasionally a friend can come along, but try and also have fun time where it is only the family. Consider suggestions from each child as to what to do or where to go. Build memories. Laugh together. Create albums of these special times and keep souvenirs. Family time could be spending a night at home going through family albums and sharing stories or relating the birth experience. It could be a candle light dinner with a time to affirm each other. Each person has the opportunity to be still and listen to others’ affirmation, then it is the next ones turn to be affirmed.
Notes to the Parent Your child needs you more than you can imagine. Maintain a sense of humour and do not take it personally. It is only a wrong choice THEY are making; it is not about you. Whatever consequences you put in place – do not let it be a punishment for you. Parents will often say to me, “He will not listen to me. Any punishment I give him just does not work.” When I suggest consequences such as these in the book, their first response is, “Shame, that seems a bit harsh.” Or, “I have not tried it but I know that will not work.” They often feel they have no leverage. However, they need you more than you need them. Every child has the right to be loved, clothed, a roof over their heads and an education. Anything else is a privilege. They cannot create this environment without you. They need parents. Therefore, you have some leverage! They can lose all the wonderful luxuries that do not fall under these categories. They can lose the electricity in their rooms, the door, in fact everything down to a mattress and bedding. They can be taken to school and back and nowhere else. This can all be earned back over time and when respect is demonstrated. If you constantly feel sorry for your child, you need to remind yourself that this is not about you. This is about what is best for your child’s development and character. Put your feelings aside and do what is best to grow your child. Think long term. That is in fact what you want to encourage in your child as well – not short term gratification. So even if it seems difficult for you to enforce, think of your child and the long-term benefits. “I thought baby monitors were only used for babies! Mine has become quite useful lately.” Anonymous Giving advice Sometimes teens just want to talk. They are not always asking you to fix the problem; they just want to share something that has happened. Be sensitive to their need. Often times they work it out by themselves just by saying it out aloud. Pose questions to help them figure it out for themselves. Do not take things personally and remind them (and yourself): Character is what you stand for; reputation is what you fall for. Home Visits-Case Studies I had a home visit with Bradley, one of a twin and his divorced mom. His mom struggled with his rude and obnoxious behavior, which included hitting and biting her. After a hair-raising session, we decided to remove all his privileges. We boxed all his PSP’s, Dvd’s, cd’s, video’s and all sporting equipment. He would also not be taken to any activities, whether it be a prepaid sport or birthday parties. He was told he could earn them back with respectful behavior. A few months later I returned and he and his brother were very keen to show me what they had ‘earned’ back. Bradley, a totally changed 11 year old, chatted with us like an adult. He wanted to discuss and idea that he had thought of. He brought out 2 pieces of paper and proceeded to separate the different ‘privileges’ (a he called it). Then he explained, “Mommy, on this page is all the things you took away from us like our sporting equipment and Dvd’s etc. I think we should get those back and then you take them away when we do not listen.  On this page is the list of things you do for us, like, taking us to parties, take us to our friends or cooking for us. I think we should earn the right to have these.” After picking ourselves off the floor, we smiled at him and agreed to the new plan. This was a totally different young man sitting in front of me! I could not believe the change after only a few months of firm boundaries and consistency. He then turned to me and added, “you know how you told me that when mommy calls me I need to listen the first time? Well, when I call her I have to call ‘Mommy!’ three times before she responds. I do not think that is fair! And, when I try to talk to her about something, and a message comes through on her phone, she just reads is and answers it and that makes me feel like she is not listening. I do not feel like she cares when she does that!” With that he started crying softly. Could this possibly be the cocky, arrogant child I had met a year before? His mom apologized and promised to pay more attention. Children love boundaries and flourish on mutual respect. Dealing with Aggression I had a similar reaction from an 11 year old. My eldest daughter is an Occupational Therapist and was working with an aggressive child with ADHD. Unfortunately the parents were not very committed concerning the change of diet and he was showing signs of aggression. One day she phoned me and told me that this 9-year old had pulled a kitchen knife on her because she would not let him have sweets. She handled the situation calmly but phoned me to ask what I thought she should do as a consequence. Of course, I was horrified and like any other mother, wanted to climb in my car and sort him out! When I started breathing again, we came up with a plan. The next day she picked him up from school and announced they were going for a little outing. He was overjoyed thinking it would be to the beach or the aquarium. However, she had prearranged with the police to show him what a jail cell looked like. The sergeant in charge sternly showed him around and let him experience the inside of a cell,explaining to him that this is the place where boys land up when they pull knives on people. This was a very effective visual aid, which I am sure he will never forget.