Shaping positive parent-child relationships

Published 10:01 am Sunday, September 18, 2016

QUESTION: How do positive parent-child relationships and healthy family interactions influence future parenting skills?

ANSWER: Parents teach first. Not too long ago, the family clan was all together to jointly celebrate the birthdays of Grandma and a grandson. The four kids who were little when I first entered the family are now parents of a crew of elementary school cousins and a new generation of babies.

The gathering was full of positive interactions:

Young mothers and fathers co-parented: holding babies, answering children’s questions, monitoring group play.

Birthday gifts for the upper elementary boy cousin encouraged a wide range of interests: fishing gear, clothes, sports equipment, school supplies and art posters and markers.

Cousins were helped to create a special birthday surprise for Grandma: cucumber slices in a circle, with baby carrots for candles and vegetable dip for frosting. Of course, the finished product was applauded by all.

A three year old was encouraged to help push an older relative’s wheelchair, returning to talk animatedly at his knee throughout the day.

Children were identified by name a time or two and requested to “look at me” before a direction was given.

A younger child, distraught by the older children’s freedom to be outside, was distracted by an uncle’s request to help him find the kitty.

A nine-year-old’s tears over an uncle and aunt’s decision not to let a cousin stay overnight was met with comforting space on a father’s lap and gentle, firm words that “We cannot do anything more about that.”

An eight-year-old’s recital of a recent play interaction included the description that her cousin had accidentally kicked her. “Good for you for understanding that he accidentally kicked you,” commented Grandma. “That means you’re growing up.”

The child who is a natural beauty heard comments about her clear thinking and good ideas.

The child who is already wearing glasses was told that she’s lovely and was hugged often.

Throughout the day grandpa got everyone on video tape, doing this, that and the other thing, because, obviously, everyone and everything going on was important.

A third generation was in the process of learning and practicing the skills that will ultimately positively impact the fourth generation.

For more information check out www.familiesandcommunities.org, and free resources at the Parenting Resource Center Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin).