Win Your Child Back

Martha was cooking when her teenage son Phil got back from school. She asked him, “How’s school?” Phil shrugged and went up to his room. Martha felt bad. When her son was younger, he would always run to her to give her a bear hug. Now that he’s grown up, he will not even look at her. She doesn’t know much about his friends. She doesn’t know which club he has joined in school. She doesn’t know if he has a girlfriend. She tried to ask him, but she would always get that same answer – nothing. What went wrong? She wants her son back.

There are some factors that affect the relationship between a parent and a child:

Parental ConflictCredit:

marital conflict can injure parent-child relationship
Photo: mrbill78636 | Flickr

drugs and alcoholism have adverse effects
on parent-child relationship
Photo: antijoe | Flickr

Conflict between parents. This does not necessarily refer to divorce. Even non-divorced parents who have an unhealthy marriage and who argue a lot can injure their relationship with their children (Sobolewski and Amato, 2007).
Drugs and alcohol. Parents’ drug and alcoholic abuse results in poor parenting, thus, causing their children to be more distant (Gallant et. al, 1998; Muller et. al, 1994).
Mental illness and personality disorders. One example is Narcissistic Personality Disorder, wherein the sufferer is unable to sympathize and understand other people’s needs. A parent with NPD will think about his own needs more than he would with his child’s needs. This would cause the child to develop NPD himself, or turn into overly sympathetic person, or develop other mental illnesses (Rockler-Gladen, 2008).
The things I’ve mentioned above are extreme cases. Probably in your case, you simply need to apply some tweaks and tricks to improve your relationship with your child.
Disclaimer: I did not conduct any experiments about the topic. My tips are based on my personal experience and stories I have heard and read.

Tips and Tricks

Make your home as small as possible. As the house gets larger, so does the gap among family members. I have relatives who live in a big mansion. Looking for a family member in that house is challenging. And there are days when some of them have not even seen each other! When buying a house, opt for the small cozy one rather than the big castle-like house. Otherwise, you can rearrange your present home in such a way where everyone will bump into each other everyday.
  Sharing BedroomCredit:
Share a bedroom with your children. Before you disagree with me and think of me as insane, take this tip figuratively. I do share a bedroom with my parents, so do my relatives with their kids and some people that I know. It depends on your culture. Asians are family-oriented people, so it’s quite normal to do this. However in our case, we share a bedroom mainly to save energy (Philippines has the most expensive energy in the world). The downside here is the lack of privacy. This can be remedied by providing other “bedrooms” for your children. They can have their own private rooms where they can study and do some activities, and then transfer to the “main” bedroom to sleep. Or you can make a rule where all family members have to stay in the living room until bedtime. Use your creativity. I can say that this is one of the reasons why I’m close with my parents.
Eating AloneCredit:  
Eat together as a family at least once a day. I heard of a student who was called to the guidance office due to her behavioural problems. It was found out that she suffered from parental neglect. She later confided that she thought she would die soon. When asked why, she broke into tears and said she would usually forget to eat her meals. There was rarely anyone at home to eat with. So do your kids a favour. No matter how busy you are, make sure that you eat your meals with your entire family at least once a day.
Do not be nosy. Most parents that I know are nosy. It’s hard not to be. At times like this where drug abuse, alcoholism, bullying, and teenage pregnancy are so rampant, parents can’t help but act like a detective. They look for every clue that could tell them about what their kids are up to. Kids with nosy parents may feel their privacy being invaded; otherwise, it’s just simply annoying. Don’t be like one. Your kids would want to keep more things from you. It won’t help your relationship. So the next time you see your son’s Facebook left opened in his unattended laptop, pretend that you’re blind.
Mother and DaughterCredit:  
Be a friend. Your daughter told you about a fight she had with her friend. When she told you about the part where she skipped class with her friend, you cut her off and announced that she’s just been grounded for skipping class. If you have a habit of doing this, chances are your kids won’t open up to you anymore. Listen to your kid’s story, and don’t interrupt. Whether you like what you hear or not, it’s your kid’s voice, after all. Let her finish, and correct her gently afterwards.
  Mom and Daughter BondingCredit:
Do something together. Watch a movie with your kids; play sports with them; do house chores together.  Most men socialize with their male peers through activities. So do kids with their parents. It can be hard to sit down and talk with you face to face. They will feel naked in front of your judgmental eyes. Activities are social lubricants. Talking to you becomes less intimidating. Plus, it’s more fun.

Why is it important to have a close relationship with parents?

  CoupleCredit: A close relationship with parents contributes to the child’s well-being. A study in Montclair State University led by Constance Gager suggests that children who are close to their parents have greater chances of having a successful love life when they grow up. Studies conducted by Prof. Sarah Stewart-Brown of the University of Warwick also showed that healthy relationship between parents and children lead to healthier children, both physically and mentally. 
© Rainy Kua 2014. All Rights Reserved.