Maintaining a Heart-Centered Connection with Your Child
by Madeleine St.Jacques
Maintaining a heart-centered connection with my child is something I’ve been pondering a lot lately, as my own daughter marches steadily towards the teen years. Easier to do when they’re young; not so simple at times as kids creep into adolescence. Here’s something to consider, though — our kids actually give us invitations to connect with them all the time. The trick, however, is being present enough to catch it — to recognize it.
Sometimes they will literally ask us to do things with them, or ask to talk to us about something, but more often than not, the invitations arrive in those moments when (and let’s be honest here) our plates are full and we’re completely focused on our own tasks.
And rare is the child who willingly tells you about their day when they get home from school. As parents, we look forward to this time to reconnect with our kids because they’ve been gone all day. We may get upset – maybe a little offended if they blow us off to do other ‘stuff’. Our delicate egos take a hit because we remember there was a time when they couldn’t wait to tell us everything, right?
As our kids get older, no longer are we the center of their universe; and this is as it should be. It’s a normal, healthy piece of the individuation process. But we may grieve the shift in the relationship, even though intellectually we may understand what’s going on.
Nevertheless, I’m here to remind you that there are plenty of opportunities to connect with your child. It just requires some presence on your part and a willingness to step outside of your own ‘stuff’ and your own expectations (gasp!) What are some ways to do this?
- Drive your kids places (I know, I’m hearing the groans already, but can I just say, you’ll be amazed what you learn about your kids and their friends listening to the conversations happening in the back seat!!)
- Be the ‘hang-out house’ or host the sleepovers your child keeps asking to have.
- Be willing to lend an ear, even if it sounds like your child is doing more ranting and complaining than talking (oh, and here’s another tip – don’t try to dive in and solve the problem for them…if an idea for a solution pops into your head, say something like: “I just thought of something that might help, would you like to hear it?” Be prepared for a “NO!” And don’t take it personally.
- Bedtime. What is it about bedtime – such a vulnerable, emotionally tender part of the day for many children. It’s a time of the day when as a parent you’re looking forward to having time to yourself. This may be stating the obvious, but the times when we’re open to communicating with one another as parent and child don’t always sync up. But bedtime is one of those times when your child may choose to finally ‘spill the beans’ about their day or talk about the stuff that’s been bothering them.
It’s not always easy though, right? We’ve all been there. You’ve got stacks of things to do, you haven’t even thought about dinner, you’ve got phone calls, meetings, emails, etc. We get swept up in these moments when our ‘to-do’ lists are just consuming. And the possibility of leaving something unfinished or pushing something back to do tomorrow seems, well, unfathomable.
These are the moments, though, when our kids show up and what’s our first response? (Be Honest!) It may seem like the greatest annoyance at the time, but I’m telling you, it’s an invitation. An invitation to take a breath, press pause, and pull the car over so to speak.
And if you can’t listen or help them out in that moment, for whatever reason tell them, “I can’t right now, this second, but here’s what I CAN do for you.” And then follow through on what you’ve told them. For younger kids, you could also say, “I’d love to help you with _____. I’m just finishing up _______ right now and I’ll be with you in _______ minutes” and then set a timer for a realistic amount of time. Follow through and be true to your word; don’t just blow them off to get them out of your hair.
Parents and kids are not always in sync. The times when we want to draw them closer to us the most to hug them, to reassure them or pepper them with questions about what’s going on with them is precisely the times when we may have to let go, cut them some slack and give them space. And they may approach us with a delicate issue at an inopportune time, but I promise you this: How you show up as a parent in these moments, will not go unappreciated or unnoticed by your child. They may not throw their arms around you the way they used to or tell you they’ll love you forever, but these are the moments that pay off big time and improve the quality of your relationship over the long haul.
Madeleine St. Jacques is a heart-centered Parenting Coach and Educator with a passion for empowering families. She is a Certified Human Design Specialist, Certified Family Coach, and has over 13 years of experience and training in various healing modalities. She is also co-founder of Empowered Parenting classes & forums along with Rev. Jamie Streett.
Madeleine provides practical, innovative resources and strategies so you can start creating success, harmony, and peace in your life. She believes that peace is possible – wherever you happen to be in your life – and is passionate about helping you find a place of peace within yourself and your family.
Madeleine lives in NJ with her husband and vivacious daughter who continue to be her greatest source of inspiration and growth.