The Power of the Parent/Child Relationship

images-1The Power of the Parent/Child Relationship

     Our parenting is most effective when we parent through a positive relationship, with authority, 24/7. The foundation of this three part thesis is the positive parent-child relationship. This does not mean “friend.” It means parent. Creating and maintaining a positive relationship with each of your children will make teaching (disciplining them) much easier. If the relationship is neglected, teaching and guiding them becomes frustrating, unpleasant, and discouraging.

(The information below can be printed on one piece of paper using front and back as a reminder of the power we have to encourage or discourage our children.)

A Positive Parent-Child Relationship

     If the parent-child relationship is secure and positive for both parent and child, then teaching, guiding, and training will be considerably easier, more enjoyable, and produce results. A healthy relationship is marked by a child who feels treasured, trusted, and known. Parent and child enjoy being together and the child feels loved for who they are no matter how they behave. The child accepts boundaries because he trusts his parents’ intentions for his own best interests. The child wants to please his parents.

  • Parent trusts child or is helping them regain broken trust. (trust but verify)
  • Relationship stays repaired after harsh moments through connection and apology.
  • Parent actively listens with minimal feedback in the moment.
  • Parent accepts child “warts and all.”
  • Parent is secure and can accept the child’s anger and frustration at any given moment.
  • Child feels known. “My mom ‘gets me.’”
  • Child feels that each parent is on his side.
  • Parent connects with child in the child’s world. (What does the child LOVE to do? Do that with him.)
  • Parent is thoughtful about managing the home environment to teach, guide, and encourage the child. Recognizes the 24/7 nature of parenting.
  • Mistakes are accepted with encouragement.
  • Parent is positive about the future, “You’re going to figure this stuff out!”
  • Parent and child enjoy being together and spending time together simply enjoying each other rather than always running from activity to activity.
  • Parent assumes the best about the child. “That surprises me that you hit your brother.”
  • Parent often smiles at child and uses physical touch to convey affection.
  • Parent speaks highly about the child. “I sure enjoy being your mom!”
  • Parent is definitive and strong but also calm and gentle. Follows through with instructions, “Do you need my help obeying?”
  • Parent allows maturity to take its course and allows the child to fail and learn from mistakes, thereby owning his own behavior.
  • Parent speaks wisdom and truth in love.
  • Parent is the “boss” of the home and child is the “boss” of himself.

A Negative Parent-Child Relationship 

    images If the parent-child relationship is insecure and negative for both parent and child, then teaching, guiding, and training is stressful, frustrating, and lacks results. A broken relationship is marked by mistrust, hostility, and manipulations on both sides. Often the child feels that love is performance-based rather than unconditional. Parent and child do not enjoy being together and the child mistrusts the parents’ motives assuming they are out to “harm” the child. The child doesn’t care if he pleases his parents. The child behaves for rewards or to avoid punishment, NOT because it’s the right thing to do.

  • Parent doesn’t trust child and child knows it.
  • Parent explodes in anger and never asks for forgiveness.
  • Parent rarely listens to child’s feelings, thoughts, and ideas.
  • Parent corrects, nags, and points out problems as the most common way to interact with the child.
  • Parent is easily agitated with child’s emotional outbursts or poor behavior
  • Parent praises performance rather than effort and character.
  • Child feels that parents are the enemy. Child directs anger toward them.
  • Parent cares for child’s physical needs but not emotional needs.
  • Parents only “parent” in the moment of a misbehavior. Other time is forfeited.
  • All mistakes are criticized without a plan for improvement.
  • Parent is negative about the future. “If you keep being lazy, you will be an irresponsible adult.”
  • Parent avoids the child since most interactions are negative.
  • Parent assumes the worst about the child, “That’s typical! You’re so dishonest I’ll never be able to trust you…”
  • Parent gives regular ultimatums to the child. “If you do that again, you’re grounded!” Child gains power by crossing the “line” and acting like it didn’t bother him.
  • Parent is harsh, impatient, and easily frustrated with the child.
  • Parent uses threats, bribes, and harshness to “get” the child to obey.
  • Parent is controlling and micromanaging.
  • Parent rants in long lectures.
  • Parent attempts to be the “boss” of the child and in doing so loses control of his own house. (No one can MAKE a child eat, sleep, poop, stop crying etc. and attempting to do so damages the relationship and gives the child too much power.)

Take some time this week to evaluate your relationship with each child. If you determine that you are in a negative cycle, choose ONE thing to stop and ONE thing to start. Consider ignoring minor misbehaviors in an attempt to reestablish your connected relationship. Add a ritual that the two of you can count on and don’t forget to tell your child, “I sure love being your mom!” and one day soon you will be able to say, “I actually ENJOY being your mom!”


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