My parents and family are some of my closest friends. I respect their opinion and like their company. My goal as a parent is to have the same relationship with my kids. But how do I foster that type of relationship with my kids?
Today, I am honored to have Sarah Wall as a guest writer for my blog. She has 6 kids and knows what it takes to build those relationships. To connect it’s Sarah, you can read her blog here, or connect with her on Facebook, and Pinterest. To get more info, read her bio at the end of the post
9 things to do to have a close family
Friendship is important
Having friends is vital to our well-being as people. But it should start at home. One of the keys to parenting successfully is fun and friendship. The reason my friend and I couldn’t seem to get together was that we were both prioritizing our families, and protecting that valuable family time.
Family time is essential to good parenting. I talked about in a previous post the necessity of being present to parent. You can’t parent at all if you aren’t there. But being present doesn’t always mean time spent as a family.
The family that plays together stays together
It’s a cliche saying, but it’s so true. If you want a relationship with your kids once they are grown and gone (and I think most of us do!) then you need to create those bonds and memories now.
A great way to bond with your kids is to have fun with them. Learn what they love to do and do it with them. Turn up the music and have a dance party. Play games and have wrestling matches. Anything that makes your child smile and have fun with you is a great idea. These moments create bonds that last a lifetime.
How do you have fun as a family?
One of the best ways to connect with your kids is by forming family traditions. You know — Saturday morning pancakes, or Friday night movie night. Those rituals that you always do with your kids, from the daily good-morning hug to the yearly trip to the Christmas tree farm. These are the memories that create the family bonds and memories, and that holds your family together.
One of our favorite traditions in my family is our yearly Christmas ornament. I started this when my first child was born. Even though she was only a few days old, I took her to the store, and chose an ornament with her, for our Christmas tree. And every year since, I have taken my children to choose ornaments. I label them with the name and date in sharpie on the bottom somewhere. And every year, my kids get excited about unwrapping their ornaments from our boxes, remembering the year we bought it and hanging “their” ornament on the tree. They discuss for weeks what kind of ornament they’ll get this year. It’s a family bond that I treasure.
Types of traditions you can start
There are many types of traditions you can start as a family.
Daily, it could be the bedtime rituals you put your kids to bed with — storytime or night prayers.
Maybe it’s a weekly family board game night? Or a specific kind of meal you have once a month, that everyone helps to make. It could be as small as the “I love you” game my oldest daughter and I have. We used to say it to each other when she was little, and now we do it via texting! (Teens and technology lol) Or it could be a huge thing that you plan for every year, such as a summer barbeque that you invite the whole neighborhood too.
Create traditions with your kids. Have fun with them. They’ll remember it for the rest of their life.
Choose your family as your friends
There’s an old saying that says you can’t choose your family, but you choose your friends. Having fun as a family helps create these bonds between the members of the family. We have fun, and we develop a friendship. Family fun makes friends out of our family.
One of my favorite things about homeschooling my children is seeing how they are each other’s best friends. They are sisters, of course, and like all siblings, they squabble and bicker at times. But if you were to ask them who their best friend is, every single one of them would answer with their sisters’ names.
You may not choose who your family is, but you can choose to make friends with your family. One of the best ways to do this is to have fun as a family.
Foster friendships between your kids
I love seeing the friendship between my children. There is an ebb and flow to who plays with who, and who is getting along better right now, but the genuine liking that my kids have for each other shines. They love each other, of course. But they also like each other. A lot. And that’s huge.
I don’t have that relationship with my brother. Growing up, even though we were very close in age, we were so very different, that we did not get along. And my parents mostly concentrated on keeping the peace (I don’t blame them! Squabbling kids are no fun!) Today, my brother is an amazing man, husband, and father. I admire him — from a distance.
I hope for more for my children. Ideally, I want them to be close as adults. I’d love it if when one gets engaged, or gets a new job, or wins a scholarship, that the second person (after me) they called would be a sister. Or all their sisters! I want them to have big family gatherings, long after I’m gone. I want my children to be friends.
Be your kids’ best friend
My teenage daughter and I are friends. But I’m not her best friend. Yet. We’re working on it. It’s a huge part of parenting, and she is my first born, so I’m still learning how this is going to work. Because, while I want to be her friend, I’m also her mother.
When your children are little, they love being around mom and dad. They copy us, they tag along and get underfoot, and they listen and watch everything we do. We parents are their best friend.
It doesn’t always stay that way unless you work at it. I didn’t always do that with my oldest daughter, concentrating too much on being “in charge” and not enough on the relationship I wanted to have with my child. Being their friend means honoring their own choices, and inviting them, not dictating to them.
Yes, we’re still the parent. And there are times, especially when they are young and too immature to understand, that I need to make choices for them. But friendship means I listen to what they say, and even if they don’t like my choice, they feel heard. Friendship starts with respect.
Your kids are not your best friend
Even though I want to be my children’s best friend, it isn’t wise or even appropriate that they be my best friend. As their parent, I need to protect my children, as much as I can, from the dramas and hard choices of adulthood. It is not fair to them to use them as my support when they are too young to handle that pressure.
It would be like expecting a sapling to hold up the weight of a treehouse. You don’t build treehouses in young trees. You build them in mature trees because only mature trees can support the structure without breaking. Children can’t support adults the way other adults can support each other.
As parents, we need to find our support and our friends outside of our children. Ideally, that would be your spouse, of course. But those of us without spouses must be extra vigilant to connect with other adults, and not put our children in the role of being our best friends.
Fun and friendship
Being a good parent is really about the relationship you have with your children. Yes, being consistent and truthful is important. Yes, obviously, you need to be present. And just as obviously, you need to check in and check up on your kids. But it all boils down to the relationship. Is there friendship in your family?
Be your kids’ friend. Have fun with them. And watch your relationship grow.. and your parenting becomes easier and better than ever.
Take a break
Having time together as a family is important. But, to truly enjoy the time you have together it’s important to take a break once in a while.
Recently, it was one of those days. It had been coming on for a while, but I needed a break but it was hard to find the time and place in our schedule. I wanted to connect with friends of ours, and it just seemed we couldn’t coordinate our calendars. We’d each proposed several trips, playdates, or other get-togethers over the course of several weeks. And it never worked out.
Finally, we both managed to make the time for fun. It was soo good. I spent a morning with friends, getting in a good adult conversation with other women I knew weren’t going to judge me, who liked me and appreciated what I had to say — while my children and theirs played happily together.
My goal is a parent is to have close family ties. This does not happen overnight and takes intention and time. The good news is that all the work does pay off in the in.
How do you build a close family?
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