Evaluate Your Relationships
So, how do we know if we have a good relationship with our children? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. There are three or four—in fact, maybe six—things that are really good indicators of the quality of a relationship.
Child Listens To and Follows Directions
The number one, and the one that I think is probably the most important, is that, if your child listens to and follows instructions, that’s the best indication you can get of the quality of a relationship. And it’s the one that’s the most important. If you know that you are going to be teaching, and you are going to be asking your children to do something that they are maybe not inclined to do, you’re going to be asking them to take out the garbage, you’re going to be asking them to clear the dinner table, you’re going to be asking them to stay home instead of going out for an activity they’d like to do, you’re going to ask them to mow the lawn—you can increase greatly the likelihood that they will follow through and accept the invitation to do as you have asked if you have a great relationship.
There have been times in my life—there have been literally thousands of times in my life—when I knew my children were going through difficult times, and I was going to have to ask them to do something they didn’t want to do. Before I did anything else, I would check the quality of my relationship.
I would sometimes wear a piece of masking tape around my wrist, maybe around both wrists, and I would mark the positive interactions I had with them on the masking tape on one wrist, and the negative interactions on the other. And I wouldn’t ask them to do that difficult thing until I had monitored this for several days to make sure my relationship could endure the request, because I knew that the most important thing for me in securing the cooperation of a child was the quality of that relationship. It’s absolutely critical, and it’s the best indicator of a good relationship that, when you ask a child to do something, particularly if it’s something you know that they would rather not do, and they follow through and do it, you can be secure your relationship is in good shape.
Volunteers To Help and Follows Through
Volunteers to help and follows through—when you’re carrying the groceries in from the garage, and your children jump up from playing a video game or doing something else, and they come over and offer to help you, that’s an indication of a great relationship. If they put out their foot and trip you as you’re walking by, that’s not an indication of a good relationship. So, volunteering to help, offers to help, following through—those are really good indications.
Spending Time Visiting and Talking
Just spending time visiting and talking—you start a conversation, and they are engaged in that conversation. That’s wonderful. You ask a question and they walk away—that’s an indication of a relationship that needs work.
Giving Gifts and Remembrances
Giving gifts and remembrances—little things—you’re not asking them to, or you’re not even expecting, gifts of significant monetary value—just a little something. “I was thinking about you today, Dad.” “Mom”—a phone call, a text message—these are all indications of good relationships.
Joking and Teasing
Reciprocating, responding in kind to, joking and teasing, is another really great example of a good relationship, or an indication of a good relationship.
Compliments on your appearance or your performance—“Hey, Dad, I listened to your presentation. It was great. It was well done. Nice job. I like that tie you’re wearing today”—anything like that is a wonderful indication of a good relationship.
And hanging around—you walk into a room and the kids scatter? That’s an indication of a relationship that needs work. You walk into a room and people come, you sit down on the couch and your children come and sit with you—that’s an indication of a good relationship.
It’s easy to measure the strength of your relationship. Just pay attention to these indicators, and you’ll know for sure that things are in the right place, and they are prepared to receive the teaching that you are going to provide.
Take Time to Reflect:
Evaluate your relationships as they stand today. Do you see any of these indicators in your life? Write about it in your journal so you know where you are now. Then continue to keep track so you know just how much your relationships are growing.
Use the Take Notes tab at the bottom to record your reflections. The notes you take are private for you and can be seen either on each page or in My Journal.
Talk It Over
As you continue in the course you will see links to the Kitchen Table. In our house, the Kitchen Table is our name for a group of discussion boards for members. Think of it as a room that is a safe place to have a seat and talk things over with others. There will be specific topics that go with many lessons or you can start a discussion of your own.