By Janice Villanueva
Creating a closer connection with your child is essential in raising him into a happy, healthy human being. Every day, moms and dads have little pockets of opportunity to create such connections. It could be as simple as singing nursery songs with him while giving him a bath, helping him build his Lego space station, or asking him to assist you in setting up the table for dinner. Once in a while, you can celebrate special occasions by throwing him a party, bringing him to new places, or taking him on trips far and away. But for the most part, connections are strengthened by being mindful of everyday opportunities.
Bonding with our children allows us to create teachable moments as well. Whether it’s as basic as teaching them healthy habits to live by or as complex as guiding them on how to make proper life decisions, bonding with our children allows them to start strong in life, with us by their side.
We have three kids of different ages, and I love it that I have different ways to bond with each of them. When they were younger, I used to feel like someone with multiple personalities. I had to adjust my personality, mood, and tone in order to connect and relate with each child effectively. Because Coby was the serious type when he was younger, I would speak to him slowly and with a serious tone of voice. Because Zach was the happy child, I would be super jolly and chirpy when I’m with him. I didn’t mind adjusting my demeanor to their own as I knew that these connections would help them to start strong in their growth and development as individuals.
Now that they’re bigger, I have shed off my multiple personality tactic into one of conscious mindfulness. I connect with them by taking into consideration their hobbies and interests as well as our common beliefs and shared experiences.
Zach and I share a love for arts and crafts, so it’s easy to talk to him about craft materials and ask him about his latest projects. At times, I also like singing songs to him with wrong or made up lyrics because I noticed it makes him laugh out really loud. Zach is also quite a gamer. Though that world is strange to me, I’d like to know more about it because my son is so into it. When he goes on tournaments, I’d ask about the participants, the games they played, and how he fared.
There are lot of things going on in Coby’s life right now – college, sports, friends. He’s at that stage where he’s trying to figure out things, forging his way towards life so we would have these heart-to-heart talks about life and relationships, the future and the past. In college, he’s learning about digital media and events, and I’m glad because I love the way we throw ideas at each other. And would you believe we enjoy talking about fashion, too?!
Last but not least is our youngest, Reese. I find it so easy to bond with her because she’s just so much into crafts as I am. She’s also into calligraphy, just as I am. We bake. We dance. We laugh. We watch HGTV and walk the dogs. I also help with her businesses and things she’s interested in doing. I have so much fun with this girl!
Of course, mealtimes always present great opportunities for bonding. Whether we’re grabbing a quick bite in the morning or having a longer time at the dinner table at night, I make it a point to ask the kids about their concerns for the day. Mealtimes also make for great opportunities to teach kids about healthy eating habits so I make sure to prepare for them nutritious meals and drinks. Needless to say that Mott’s 100% Apple Juice is always present during family mealtimes. Mott’s is my trusted partner in providing the right nutritional foundation for my family anytime anywhere.
Now more than ever, I am conscious about being able to emotionally connect with each child regularly. They’re all growing up fast so I won’t let a week go by without a talk, a hug, a quiet moment, or a bonding activity with each one. I think that’s how you nurture your bond. If your child is the secretive type, just keep talking even without him sharing. This is so he knows you are always open to his stories and ideas.
I used to think that I wouldn’t be able to relate with my boys because well, they’re boys! I couldn’t understand the pleasure they were getting out of gaming, for instance, which I felt was a mindless activity. I realized then that it was I with the mind block. When I gave it another look, I saw that they were okay. They were still living balanced lives after all. Coby was into gaming, yes, but he was also into sports. Zach was into theater and was a member of the Glee Club. I didn’t have to “judge them” but just closely watch over them and guide them to make sure they don’t go overboard. In this way, I keep my relationship with my children open and close. There is respect on both sides, between me and how I relate with them and between them and how they relate to me.