Are you looking for ways to better connect with your son?
If your days are anything like mine, they’re filled with busyness and noise! There’s washing, dishes,homeschooling and cooking to be done and I find myself busy almost the entire day with just those things. I’ll take a step back at the end of the day and sometimes realise that I’ve lost that connection with my son.
Being a mom of three little people four years and under, I know from experience how fast the days pass by in a busy blur. If you get that ‘lost connection’ feeling sometimes, know you’re definitely not alone! When you find yourself there, the following interesting (& handy) tips may interest you:
Connecting: The Dinnertime – Development Link
Did you know that a study done over eight years, following sixty-five families, found that dinnertime is of greater value to a young child’s development than school, story time and play time?
*Study done by Dr. Catherine Snow, professor of education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
For teenagers, a similar study was done; 527 teenagers were surveyed to learn what family and lifestyle characteristics related to mental health and adjustment… they found that adolescents who had dinner with their parents, as a family, five or more times a week, were least likely to be on drugs, depressed or in trouble with the law. They were also more likely to be doing well at school and have a circle of supportive friends. These findings were the same regardless of where dinner was eaten – restaurants or home.
*Study done by Dr. Blake Bowden, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Center. Taken from J. Dobson’s: ‘Bringing up Boys‘
Who knew the power that lies in having five or more dinner times together as a family!? If you find five evenings a week a stretch, try turning off the TV, IPads, cellphones; and on crazy days, rather than eating seperately in a rush, try and east as a family and just keep dinners simple & quick – 10 minute eggs on toast every now and then is just fine!
The 4 Most Beneficial Times To Connect
A study surveyed 11 572 teenagers to determine which factors contributed most in preventing behaviors such as suicide, violence, early sexual behavior and substance abuse. The findings were that there are four key times in a day where the presence of parents is most beneficial: early morning, after school, at dinner time and at bedtime.
This regular contact, in combination with other activities shared with parents, is said to result in the most positive outcome. Teens who feel connected to their parents are least likely to engage in negative, harmful behavior.
*Study done by The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health
I have to remind myself of these 4 special times often. I find a simple roster helps remind me each day of these – I make notes first thing in the morning of what I’ll do with who, and when: a simple puzzle with my son after breakfast, a thin bedtime storybook if it’s been a long day, a cuddle and one-to-one chat over dinner; they all contribute to keeping that special mom -son connection strong.
Now that we know how important bedtimes are for connecting, I had to add in what I’ve learnt for them 🙂
I find bedtimes can be a really sweet bonding time. A calm, slow bedtime routine is settling and security-building. A tricky ritual some days, but worth it! If it’s been a long day, an hour before bedtime is a great time for some calming tea all around, and time to tone down the ‘volume’ and pace of the household. Bedtime doesnt have to be a mad rush to get the kids in bed, it can be a calming down activity. This sounds idealistic on my crazy days, but we try hehe 😉
Bedtime and dinnertime can be great opportunities to include some family traditions you love. Traditions build a warm, secure sense of family and bonding in boy’s hearts. We love devotions with our son – a quick bible story, a song (or few) and a round of Thank You prayers, where everyone gets to be thankful for one thing they loved that day. Other traditions you could use to connect with your son are: ten minutes doing something he enjoys, like chess, a walk to a favorite spot to share some biscuits, or soccer in the yard. Keep it energetic, full of laughter and fun! (Easiest done when you purposefully forget your to-do list and put on some FUN-tinted lenses 😉
Another idea is to keep one wall in your home as .a family ‘wall’ where everyone puts up their favorite photo’s of current events in the family – birthday photo’s, wedding pics, notes to each other, holiday photos, etc. For more family tradition ideas, take a look at one of our past posts on traditions here. Special holiday traditions are also a great way to begin/continue family traditions – turkey for Christmas dinner, a picnic at the dam for Easter lunch after church, balloons in the birthday boy’s room when he wakes up. They all add expectant excitement around these holidays, and they’re done as a family which is awesome for boy’s sweet spirits.
Connecting While Out & About
Having a sister as my only sibling, I grew up with pink and frills and tea parties and teddies. So it came as a surprise when I got married, and later when I had a boy, that their ways were foreign and sometimes slightly shocking to me lol! The sounds and smells they can make lol. And the wild energy! I realised quickly that you can’t tame a boy – you can’t get him to sit inside for long periods of a day doing quiet activities like a lot of little girls do. Nope, boys love to be outdoors, usually moving at fast speeds. If you want to connect, you’re going to have to join him in what he loves.
This does nothing for my pile of washing, but my son LOVES it when I’m with him – walks and trips to the beach, tours of rugged dunes full of plants and bugs and holes to poke at and explore. Sure, he could go alone but half the fun is in sharing it with me, in asking questions and giving me pocketfuls of ‘treasures’ he finds, in having races and playing ballgames. After an hour of pure joy on his side as he shares this all with me, I realise despite my tiredness, my son has the most fun when I do things his way – wild and loud. Go big or go home!
I know it’s sometimes difficult to pause when your to do list is calling you, or speed up to preschooler pace when you’re tired but these years are short. The laundry can wait 30minutes 😉 It’s a lot easier for most people, and boys (especially teens), to open up and talk when doing something WITH you, not sitting formally over a meal, facing you. Keep the lines of communication open as often as you can. Time out with your son, doing something active while listening to him talk is an excellent way to connect and keep connected!
How To Get Them Listening To You!
I’m sure I’m not the only one that repeats myself to my son a thousand times, watching in frustration as he seemingly doesn’t hear me. The same can be said for my hubby sometimes too! It seems the male species are incredibly uni focused hehe. I read about this little gem that solves this problem, a few years ago, and it works like magic lol. Instantly! Give it a try next time you find your son not ‘hearing’ you. Instead of repeating yourself, simply TOUCH his arm to get his attention, and when he looks up at you, give him your request /instruction in simple form. Short sentences, to the point. 🙂 Breaking through their focus with touch is really effective!
Boys (and girls too, of course) love listening to stories you tell. Occasionally, tell your son HIS story – of your excitement leading up to his birth, things you loved about him when he was a baby, and what you adore about him now. Direct personal words make him feel secure, loved and give him a sense of belonging. Don’t assume he always know the depths and details of your love for him. Remind him often and use special words lavishly – adored, treasure, blessing,cherish, champion.
Something that’s been invaluable to me is the understanding of Love Languages (in a fantastic relationship-changing book by Gary Chapman). If you haven’t heard of Love Languages, I’ll give you a quick breakdown.. there are said to be five different ways that people show love, and enjoy receiving love. They are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. My oldest son is a Physical Touch boy, he loves having his back or face tickled at bedtime. He’s also a Words boy, and loves hearing all the reasons I love him, what I love about him, and then some. He loves praise and affirmation, you can almost see his heart inflate with happiness when he gets WORDS from us:)
So, those are my gems for connecting with your son in a nutshell 🙂 I hope some of these gems that help me in connecting with my son, will help you with yours. Their voices may be super loud, and their actions dangerously fast and wild, but in that blur of testosterone is a soft, sweet, vulnerable and moldable heart! Be gentle & purposeful with it.
I love James Dobson’s take on connecting with sons. In his book Bringing up Boys (one of my all time favorites), he talks of an experiment done with processionary caterpillars, which were set walking in unison along the top of a garden pot plant. They walked in this circle for three days, and then the experimenter put food in the middle of the pot plant. The caterpillars were so busy walking on his path, that they don’t stop for the food, and, one by one, die of starvation. The same can be said for us moms sometimes, working and cleaning and striving until we’re half dead, missing the gems in front of us, never stopping to take time out for our family or ourselves. And too fast, time will pass and our little boys will be out of our homes. Are you one of these, stuck in a never-ending loop of busyness? Guard your heart mom 😉
I’ll leave you with a part of my favorite quote of the week, by Vince Foster, speaking to a class of Law graduates:
A word about family. You have amply demonstrated that you are achievers willing to work hard, long hours and set aside your personal lives. But it reminds me of that observation that no one was ever heard to say on a deathbed, I wish I had spent more time at the office. Balance wisely your professional life and your family life. If you are fortunate to have children, your parents will warn you that your children will grow up and be gone before you know it. I can testify that it is true. God only allows us so many opportunities with our children to read a story, go fishing, play catch and say our prayers together. Try not to miss one of them.
Recommended reading as mentioned in the Raising Boys Series.
- Bringing Up Boys
- Raising Boys: Why Boys Are Different – and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men
- Bringing Up Boys ~ Parent Workbook
- The 5 Love Languages of Children
- Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul
- Your Brain on Childhood: The Unexpected Side Effects of Classrooms, Ballparks, Family Rooms, and the Minivan
- Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children
- Building Confidence in Your Child
- Parenting Isn’t for Cowards: The ‘You Can Do It’ Guide for Hassled Parents from America’s Best-Loved Family Advocate
- The Power of a Praying® Parent (Power of Praying)