Connection is the Foundation of Your Child’s Future

Connection is the Foundation of Your Child’s Future

Connection is the Foundation of Your Child’s Future

Everyday I hear stories about young people in trouble, maybe it’s drug use, suspension from school, violent behavior, staggering numbers of sexually transmitted diseases, a general lack of motivation…this appears to be happening within families all around the country.  We tend to want to point fingers and say it’s the school’s fault, or it’s peer pressure, or the ever-popular scapegoat…the influence of both social and mass media.

As I have become a keen observer in my own life, and in the lives of those around me (including many family and friends who are in the midst of child rearing), I have come to the conclusion we cannot afford to look outward any longer for the condition our family is in.

You see, there will always be new drugs for kids to try, new ways to cheat on school exams, video games that may influence the behavior of teens, music lyrics and television programming that will continue to push the envelope on what is morally appropriate.

The time is now to look no further than behind our own front door to begin to understand why our children might make choices to participate in behavior which could hurt them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I believe this is happening because there is a lack of true connection between parents and their children.

How can this be?  We provide them with the best clothes, schools, cars, latest electronic gadgets…we run them to and from every possible activity to enrich their life!  And yet if you really begin to observe what our children are saying (or, not saying, because they are zoned out in front of a screen many hours a day) you will understand they often feel empty.  And when our children feel empty and disconnected they will seek ways to connect, or to cover up their anxiety, loneliness, or low self-esteem.

I know this because it happened in my own home.

My oldest son, Nick, came into my life just after I finished my freshman year in college.  Choosing to raise him as a single mother meant having to leave my family home.  Anxious but determined, I felt I could be a mother because I’d had what I thought was a solid foundation. Nick’s dad and I only managed to stay together a short time, and our relationship was rocky at best.  When he and I parted ways we went through the court system to establish joint custody and child support.  In our young minds each of us felt we had the best of intentions for Nick’s well-being, and we did our best to raise our son between two very different households.

By the time Nick was in his mid-teens, he began to drink alcohol from the liquor cabinet on a regular basis.  Unbeknownst to me until years later, he was trying to quell his anxiety about many aspects of his life, including the disconnect he felt at both his mom’s and his dad’s homes.  For the most part a stay-at-home mom, I was available to listen when he chose to share with me, but the truth was I had married and we’d enlarged our family four more times.  There was a lot going on in our home.  As for his dad, he married, but decided one child was more than enough to handle.

Today Nick, now twenty-seven and five years sober, readily admits he and I had a very strong relationship during his growing up years, yet there were things he didn’t feel he could tell me, and I know there were many times when I wasn’t fully present in his life, as well as many moments when I (and his dad, his stepfather and stepmother) tried to impose our agendas and wishes onto his emerging being.

Raising children into emotionally, spiritually, physically sound adults requires time, faith, courage, patience and grace.  An ability to evaluate the job we are doing as parent, to pull back from all that life sends our way, and truly be present with our child…THAT is where connection begins.

 

Guest blog written by:  Kimberly Muench

Kimberly Muench is a freelance writer who published her autobiography My Mothers Footprints: A Story of Faith, Calm, Courage, Patience and Grace in 2011. She has been a regular contributor to Suburban Parent Magazine in Dallas/Fort Worth, crafts a newspaper column entitled Something to Muench on, has been published through a number of parenting sites including Huffington Post, 10 to 20 Parenting, Mamapedia. University of Moms and A Fine Parent. In addition, Kimberly writes weekly on her own website www.mymothersfootprints.com about faith, family, marriage and personal growth. Kimberly is a wife and mother to five children who hails from Wisconsin, but now makes her home in Texas.

4 Comments

  • Shelly Martin Buhr
    July 23, 2015 6:36 pm 0Likes

    What does “being present ” mean to you? Examples, scenarios?

    • Kim Muench
      July 24, 2015 12:06 am 0Likes

      Hi Shelly! To me “being present” means putting aside what I am doing and fully paying attention, with eye contact and best listening I can give at the time. For example, when my 10-year-old daughter comes into my office while I am writing I turn away from my computer, look her in the eye and ask her what she needs. I find when I do this she gets to the point quickly, we address whatever the request/need is, and she goes back to what she was doing and I can move on as well. When I don’t do this, she tends to come into the office twice as often or becomes whiney. Also, I have found over the years my sons tend to open up and want to talk at bedtime, although I may be tired and just want to “zone out” in front of HGTV, I remember that if they are making time to talk about something I need to honor them by giving my full attention. I hope this helps clarify…

    • Sandra Fazio
      July 24, 2015 5:33 am 0Likes

      Hi Shelly, thank you for your post / question and Kimberly for your great example and response. To expand further on what it means to “being present” – it means to be in full attunement to how we are showing in the moment of any situation. Having a pulse on our emotions, our feelings as we engage with our children and others. Being aware of our triggers, our ego, our agenda, our fears and how they can create disconnection (vs. connection) with them. Listening with compassion and without judgement – acknowledging the other letting you know you see them, hear them and that they matter. So an example (for me) is when I am putting my daughter to bed at night. I remain conscious of any distractions that may try to take me away from being present with her – e.g. need to get things done, clean the house, do the dishes, check emails, etc. My energy is calm and my focus is on our time. Having built this muscle (over the past couple of years), I know if I am slipping out of my presence (ask what in this moment is triggering me, feel it, release it) and stay present. I have seen huge shifts not just in myself but in my daughter’s energy (no more anxieties around bedtime) because I’m in check with my own and keep them “at bay” so to speak. Hope this helps further.

  • Sandra Fazio
    July 24, 2015 12:25 am 0Likes

    Hi Shelly, thank you for your post / question and Kimberly for your great example and response. To expand further on what it means to “being present” – it means to be in full attunement to how we are showing in the moment of any situation. Having a pulse on our emotions, our feelings as we engage with our children and others. Being aware of our triggers, our ego, our agenda, our fears and how they can create disconnection (vs. connection) with them. Listening with compassion and without judgement – acknowledging the other letting you know you see them, hear them and that they matter. So an example (for me) is when I am putting my daughter to bed at night. I remain conscious of any distractions that may try to take me away from being present with her – e.g. need to get things done, clean the house, do the dishes, check emails, etc. My energy is calm and my focus is on our time. Having built this muscle (over the past couple of years), I know if I am slipping out of my presence (ask what in this moment is triggering me, feel it, release it) and stay present. I have seen huge shifts not just in myself but in my daughter’s energy (no more anxieties around bedtime) because my I’m in check with my own and keep them “at bay” so to speak. Hope this helps further.

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