One of the great things about raising kids is watching them grow up to be adults. What is even better is when they still like you when they grow up. I am not an expert at this, but I do have some things my wife and I have done over the years. We have 4 adult children that still like us and like to do things with us.
One of the mistakes that I see people make is that they try to be friends with their kids as they are growing up. Kids don’t need another friend, they need a parent. Being a parent can be tough. The kids don’t arrive with an instruction manual.
Provide a safe environment at home. Create a bond of trust so that your kids can talk to you about anything. They need to know that the home is a safe place. They need to know that they can talk to you about anything and you are not going to berate them or get extremely mad at them for telling you things. Over the years my wife learned a lot of things from my boys that I am sure she would rather have not have known by having a safe environment to talk.
Have rules and stick to them. You have to stick to your house rules. If there is a violation of the rules they have to be enforced. I was talking to one of my relatives recently and he related a story of when his daughter was 16 and he and his wife were out of town. The daughter had a party at the house and did not think they would find out. He noticed a few things around the house and that his bagged ice was all gone. She stuck to her guns and said she did not have anyone over. When he started to take her around the house and point things out she finally broke down and told the truth. She did not get her driver’s license for 6 months as a punishment. It was hard, but he stuck to it. She was punished for having the party, but she was punished much more for having lied about it. It was a good life lesson for her.
Let them know you are not perfect. If you make a mistake admit it. Your kids need to realize that you make mistakes too. Transparency in this area is very important for creating trust.
Spend time with each of them individually. In the plan for my life I had a statement in it that I would spend time every day with my kids individually. As they got older and as I traveled more this became harder, but I still make an effort to speak to them at least weekly, if not a few times a week.
My wife and I made an effort to do things with the kids as a group and individually. There were family trips, guy trips, girl trips and times we spent taking them to events in the car by themselves.
Share life stories or lessons. When your kids are struggling or have an issue, talk it through with them, listen and relate life lessons that you may have experienced. This is a way of letting them know that they are not alone and you had struggles too
Have family dinner as frequently as possible. There is not much that bonds a family more than having a meal together. This is a time to talk about the day. A great conversation starter is to play high/low. What was the best thing that happened to you today? What is something that could have gone better that day? Mom and dad need to participate too.
Have family nights. This can be a game night or a movie night. Spend time as a family. Saturday or Sunday nights are great for these fun nights.
Pray with them. Pray as a family at meal times. Pray with your kids when you put them to bed.
Talk to your kids frequently. As you kids get older you need to learn how they like to communicate. Many kids today use texting or use an app like Snapchat or WhatsApp. Find out how they like to communicate and learn to use the application.
Please share this with anyone you feel would benefit.