South West Wellbeing Centre

South West Wellbeing Centre

by Jay Anderson

So its Valentines Day and whats the point? Right?  You don’t have time, or the  $$ or the energy and enthusiasm.  Parenting can be a challenges, and so can relationships. But did you know they are intertwined, entwined, correlated and co-joined? Yes, that’s it – your couple relationship and your child relationship (s) are inter-connected and related.

We know that children are observant and vulnerable. They watch what goes on around them, and learn from it. They need responsible and respectful parents – who can role-model a healthy, loving relationship, and respect of others……Your child needs to see you being cared for and loved by another, and for you to show love and respect for another, and for each of you, to love and respect your child.  We all learn from the adults around us and this affects our growth, our personality, our strengths, our current and future interactions and relationships. Surprise?!

Many authors have written about parenting, and about love……Pam Leo in her book “Connection Parenting” (Leo 2007) outlines that “a consistent, loving connection with at least one adult is essential to create a healthy, strong parent/child bond that children need to thrive” (2007:15). She described the importance of how connecting through communication builds relationship. Pam Leo outlined that “every word we say to children affects their self-worth and self-esteem. Our words either encourage children or discourage them. So ”how we talk and how we listen determines whether communication leads to connection and co-operation or disconnection and conflict” (Leo 2007: 99).

It was Pam Leo who outlined that speaking respectfully and listening with love……. builds connection, and that listening with love is listening with empathy and compassion. This particular perspective is referred to as “Connection Parenting” – parenting through connection instead of coercion through love instead of fear.  And, if you think about it, “Connection” is also what your couple relationship is all about. So when you can connect and love and be happy in your couple relationship, then that connection is more likely to be improved and beneficial in your parent-child relationship.

And you might have heard of the “5 Love Languages”.  Its a truly fascinating and appropriate concept that works for your couple relationship AND your parent-child relationship.  I urge you to check this out in either the internet world, or in the actual publication.

Here are some things that will help you improve your relationships……

  • Help children with their emotions. This will mean that the adult needs to be in control of their own emotions.  And “helping” can be as simple as “acknowledgeing” and “Reflecting”.  For example, I can see you are upset.  You could come and help me or you could choose to have some alone time.
  • Try and see the world thru your child’s eyes. Dr Stephen Covey (Covey 2000)  said that “the greatest human need is to be understood”.
  • Listen more. Have you heard the saying “we have two ears and one mouth…use your ears twice as much as your mouth”.  So, lets think about the next time you are with your child, practice listening more than talking.  Be interested. Be curious. Really “listen”
  • Understanding yourself & your child – challenging times & triggers – getting to know yourself and your child is essential. Understanding what you can and cant handle is important.  We all get irritated when we are tired, and added emotions make it harder to connect.  Some children and adults are easily agitated by the sensory world – heat or by small sounds.  Taking a break or having some rest time can help everyone with this.
  • Try and focus on strengths and interests. What is your child interested in.  There will be a number of things that really excite them and make them happy.  Spend some time doing some of these things together.

Let’s consider some relationship improving activities:

  • Go for a walk to the park together
  • Play a board game, have fun and laugh together
  • Make some cake or biscuits together. Let the kids make a mess and be ok about it
  • Read a book together in the evenings.
  • Play a simple card game together like Uno or snap
  • Plant some plants together – let everyone choose some veggies to grow
  • Spend time with cousins and friends.
  • Plan an outing to a park
  • Have a picnic with friends – catching up with others
  • Go to the beach for a walk at sunset
  • go for a bike ride at a park
  • get a soccer ball and kick it around the backyard together

Have a think about how your parent-child relationship is going and what could be different.  Consider your couple relationship also…..What will your time this Valentine’s Day – and the time surrounding it….what will that be like with your partner and your children?

Enjoy your summer!! Jay can be contacted for more information on


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