In life, we meet a variety of people regardless of race, language or religion. Some are fleeting while others form the bedrock of our beliefs.
How do we know we are in a healthy relationship? Yet our deepest beliefs begin forming with the very first set of caretakers we have. Parents.
According to leading therapist, Dr Beverly Amsel, when parental involvement is limited, children typically receive scant mirroring and encouragement.
So Daddy, here are 5 steps to building an optimal relationship with your son from crib to their teenage years.
Many fathers have a need to be seen as the strong, stoic and decisive role model. However, this may do more damage to your son. This expectation by him and others to behave similarly in their own relationships will forever riddle themselves with self doubt and inferiority.
No one grows up knowing everything. Yet when working with our boys, the "Do as I say and not as I do" mentality is detrimental to the development of the relationship. Be open with your struggles and flaws growing up as a boy and share how you overcame them.
FRIENDLY VS FRIEND
As our boys grow up, they will have their own cliques and friends. Don't be a friend, be a friendly dad instead.
The day and age of the unwavering patriarch has been replaced by the man comfortable with his own emotions. You will always be a father to your child.
Focusing on being a friend will not do you any favours. Your child will look upon you in suspicion and deride your worth as a dad. Medieval as it sounds, there must be a hierarchy to the family structure for your son to understand the fluidity between boundaries and creativity.
Shared moments do not have to be life changing or serious. Having a cup of coffee in the morning or going out for walk are just as great.
Your son may not show it as he grows older, but this is what memories are about. He will definitely miss it if you put a stop to it. Talking about your son's favourite movies or games, opens you to the world that he is privy to.
Look for commonalities between your interests that span 10 to 30 years and share. There is no need for a tangible goal to achieve at the end of the session. This avoids the pressure of a checklist and hitting your conversation checklist.
Remember, the role of the parent is to be a mentor not a coach.
FOLLOWING UP ON PROMISES
One characteristic that all children need is Hope. The first person they look towards this is their own parents.
By ensuring we deliver on our promises, we provide the impetus for our boys to build healthy relationships with others. What happens if we don't follow through? We apologise. Don't do it too often though. Or they will never take us or our words seriously.
BEING EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY PRESENT
This has steadily become a taboo over the years. Human beings are a very emotion based species. We enjoy intimacy. Yet we are living in the times of suspicion and litigation.
Never be afraid to hug you boy or even cry in front of him. Our boys need to understand that it's perfectly alright to feel and show emotional pain in an appropriate manner. The habit of bottling it up is one of the primary reasons why the rate of suicide between boys and girls is so wide.
So show your son it is okay to feel sad. He will appreciate you for it.
It is never to late to start a healthy relationship with your son. While these are not the only steps, they will start you on the right track as they start foraging into their teenage years.
This article was first published in theAsianparent.
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