The relationship between the parent and the child is key to learning. A good parent-child relationship is something that needs to be built early and regularly. When the relationship is good, stress is more manageable, problem-solving is more rewarding, and progress is sweeter.
The title of today’s podcast is “Understanding How Relationships Affect Learning.” There are all kinds of facets of relationships that we can talk about here from the basics of whether or not you really have one or not, to what kind, to how long you’ve had one or are going to have one. And why even though the parent-child relationship is very unique, and has a very unique potential, it is risky to just assume you’re going to have a good relationship.
Having a good relationship makes communication easier and more natural, even under stress and so it makes stress less stressful. And it also makes the good times more enjoyable because everybody can communicate about that. Having good relationships makes problem solving more enjoyable and more rewarding and more likely to get a better outcome.
One of the supposed dilemmas of marriage with children is what relationships should have priority. From a biblical point of view, and it seems to me sort of naturally from the order of succession of things, the marriage is the primary relationship, but the children have primary needs part of the time.
But that doesn’t mean that it is useful at all, in fact it is not useful to neglect the marriage relationship to give preference to the children because actually, your relationship with your children is very much affected by how you manage your marriage relationship. It has a very strong influence on how much they respect you. They are watching how you deal with your close relationships.
The parent-child relationship is unique in the fact that it’s really a one-sided relationship for quite a long time. The child doesn’t know what to do or can’t really know what to do and is just going to be responding to how the parent acts about the relationship. The child is very vulnerable and they need the security and they need to feel like they are a priority. But neither religious affiliation or because you homeschool or because you have good friends will automatically give you a good relationship with your children.
Basically, a good relationship with your child will be built on honesty, combined with appropriate praise, and appropriate guidance when things aren’t going as they should. This shouldn’t be guidance because you’re out of sorts or because your schedule is interrupted, but because of what needs to be done to give the lessons either in character or habits that need to be given to the child.
I cover a lot of different factors and issues that can affect the relationship with your child in my series ‘52 Weeks to a Better Relationship with Your Child’, so I’m not going to go into a lot of those here. But I want to lay the foundation for how important the relationship is and that if the parent-child relationship is not nurtured, the child will look for relationships to fill that void.
And not only that, but when conflicts or problems do arise, too many times they are mis-diagnosed as being problems with the relationship instead of problems in their own right. Or people make excuses because it’s easier. However, if the relationship is nurtured, then as I said, stressors become easier to deal with and good times are more fun.
So what is the worst possible stress that could come into your life and possibly impact the relationship you have with your child? I would suggest that divorce and death are right up there in the category, although it could be different for different families, I’m not going to just say that those are the absolute worst.
But, unfortunately, I can give you an example of how death in the family affected our family relationships. And I say unfortunately, because obviously, death is not something that any of us want. But on the other hand, it should be a very encouraging example because of how things turned out.
Now, in the outset, I’m going to say that my husband and I give all credit to God that He helped us to follow His principles in relationships and so the foundation was there when we started going through these hard times.
It’s not just all in our heads that it was there because the medical staff at the cancer institute all commented on our family from the beginning and about how well our family worked together and how good our relationships were and they have lots of experience with families under stress to compare us to.
I think having nurtured relationships among our children the way we had, it allowed us to have a magnification of what our basic principles were which was that we were supposed to help meet each other’s needs, that we did not act in selfishness, but we took care of each other. Working towards the best outcome for everyone.
Now, following the death of our daughter, we had a stream of people who confessed to us privately that they had been watching us, afraid for our marriage and how we would treat our kids after this. This story highlights that the time to build and grow relationship with your children is now, in the daily, mundane activities and conversations. Throughout the inevitable daily friction of families living together and the sometimes tedious challengers of life.
Then, when challenges come, whether due to health, or finances, or social issues, the relationships that are already forged strong are there, to not only help you to withstand under the stress but to actually let you become stronger through it in a way that you can’t when you are struggling with relationships. But as I said, it’s not all about surviving stress. Good relationships also make the good times so much sweeter. It makes the sharing more joyous and the accomplishments juicer.
To circle around, good relationships make learning, in all areas of life, flow much more naturally. You and your children have a deeper understanding of each other and thus optimal communication. With good relationships, stress and conflict is less likely to interfere with learning. Stress just eats up time or your child closes off from you emotionally, or mentally, or fights against goals. And with good communication and good relationships, you won’t be dealing with that on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean you’ll never have conflicts, but they will be easier to resolve.
When everyone enjoys being around each other, then when there is conflict nobody likes it and people want to work it out. They want to understand each other and get back to getting along the way that they find so satisfactory. And when there are good relationships even the things that are hard, just by the nature of them, even if you want to take something so bland as taking out the trash, is more easily done with a good attitude because of the relationships involved in getting that chore done.
Everyone wants good relationships with their children. It’s not automatic, but it’s not rocket science, either. It’s just that sometimes we all need encouragement and/or insights into specific problem areas.
I think that’s why the 52 Weeks series (to a Better Relationship with Your Child) can be very helpful. And since it is basically about parental attitudes and perspectives to specific issues it is simple to implement, though practicing helpful thought patterns can take some effort. But, if you are motivated to do that, because you love your children, the results are some of the most important that you will get in your whole life.
If you want to read more about how our family dealt with relationships and situations while our daughter Melody was sick, then you can go to my website or to Amazon.com and look for the book Melody’s Life Savings. It’s also an audiobook which I narrate. And the story is told partly from the children’s perspective, and partly from an adult perspective, or the parent perspective. My hope is that the story can help both children and parents talk about death in healthy ways and the hope that we as Christians can have in spite of it, because everyone does have to face it.
With spring coming as I record this podcast here on the 2nd of March, you should check out my children’s book Four Frogs in a Glass Pond. It is also available on Amazon. It is about the adventures some frogs have with some children and their parents. And then there is a second section that will teach you how to win a frog-jumping contest. The book has beautiful, original watercolor illustrations by my friend, Stacie Lee, and it’s beautiful and I think you’ll enjoy it a lot.
That’s all for today, thanks for listening, and see you next time!