I know that New Year’s resolutions usually center around losing weight, quitting smoking or some other personal improvement goal but, if you’re a parent, how about adding some New Year’s resolutions to improve your relationship with your kids and keep them safe? I recently asked my 9 year-old daughter about some resolutions and here’s what she came up with:
1. Keep your hands on the wheel – It’s a fact that adults are texting or talking on the phone and driving more than kids. We need to set an example for our teens and even younger kids who are learning by watching us. Put the phone down and concentrate on the road!
2. Learn about other people’s differences – As the sibling of a special needs’ child, my daughter understands only too well about bullying and intolerance. Let’s teach our kids to look for the beauty in everyone, appreciate their unique talents and celebrate their differences.
3. Have more fun – I’ll admit, as a working mom nothing makes me feel worse than when one of my kids complains I’m not around enough. Unfortunately they sometimes don’t realize that we need to work just to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. And yes, our stress sometimes comes out by being short with our kids. But I’ve come to realize that I’d rather my house be a bit (OK a lot) messy if it means I can spend a little extra time with my kids having fun and being silly. When they’re grown up I’d much rather have them say that they enjoyed having fun with me rather than comment on how clean the house was.
4. Be a parent first and friend second – Most teens will admit that they actually like their parents setting rules and boundaries. Sure, they might complain about it in public, but it gives them a sense of order and it’s what they expect of parents. For any parent who serves alcohol at a party to their child’s under-age friends, tries to dress like their teen daughter or tells them everything they did when they were a kid, this will only lead to a lack of respect not a friendship.
5. Be willing to learn from your child – Chances are they know way more about social media and online sites than you do. If you want to communicate with your kids, you need to do it on their terms and that generally means in short cryptic texts. But, if the goal is to understand what’s going on in their lives and protect them from cyberbullying and other dangers than understand what they’re doing.