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Relationships Matter

Caring for our children has many facets, but what really matters is that we give our children a feeling of safety, and a sense of belonging. As Mona Delahooke, PhD tells us, “We need to begin with the “birthplace of emotional growth: the relationship”

The relationship with our child begins in infancy. That bond we feel as our baby firsts interacts with us is the beginning, but how we respond or react will increase or decrease that connection. We all will have times when we miscommunicate, or inaccurately respond to our children. That “mis-match” is an opportunity to repair and therefore mutually grow and deepen our relationship. Our children learn from our mistakes when we tell them we erred and ask them to forgive us. Ed Tronik, PhD. U. Mass, Boston tells us,” No parent is immune to the mistakes and the repairs with the children with whom they interact. These repairs are a necessity to meaning making.”

No parent is perfect, just as no child will always act perfectly; we are after all, human. We want our children to understand that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Our willingness to repair the mis-matches right away demonstrates that premise and begins to open the door to empathy and an understanding of self and others.

What we know about our children is so very important. Their temperament, their environment, their development all play an important role in the relationships they form. Feelings are another component, one we often dismiss as just surface when for our children if feels deep and confusing. Helping children learn to express and let go of their feelings offers them a chance to regulate and cope with those big feelings.

Development is a messy business, Ed. Tronik reminds us, and it is not predictable, therefore we need to be alert and ready to help our children make meaning of their experiences. Being there, supporting their development and making reparations as necessary builds and strengthens their trust and our relationship day by day.

What a parent can do to build a better relationship:

  1. Own your mistakes and repair the mis-matches throughout the day with your child.

  2. Observe your child closely to learn their temperament and accept their feelings

  3. Model empathy and positive emotional regulation during the day.

  4. Understand that development is messy and unpredictable and allow time for learning through positive interactions with you.
    KTS 2019: Resource: https://monadelahooke.com/

Traditions: Refection of Our Values

Traditions: Reflection of Our Values

At this time of year I often reflect on my traditions, and what they mean to me and my family. Traditions connect one generation with another, bringing shared family values into our daily lives. Our Children learn what we hold dear, what is important and necessary to us, through our incorporation of these values into our home life. Families are as unique as the people within them, and traditions exemplify these differences. John Gottman, author of Raising and Emotionally Intelligent Child says, “Rituals symbolize cultural identity and values we share with our families.” Therefore traditions, whether inspired by holidays or daily life, are important for emotional connection within a family.

What constitutes a family tradition or ritual? How can parents incorporate them into their very busy lives? Many rituals are already a part of the day whether we consciously know it or not. For instance: Bedtime routines may include classical music, favorite books or special words repeated nightly, or meals may be “special” on Friday night or Sunday afternoon. Families come to rely on these comforting words or actions, uniting them through shared activity. Some traditions however, need to be thought out and take deliberate planning. Discussing with your co-parent what shared values you want your children to have as they grow, helps with creating rituals to reinforce those values. Whether it is sitting down together as a family to eat, having a “no screen night “or taking your kids to the theater for their birthday; what you do with your children will impart your values onto them.

As parents we strive to make our children feel happy, safe and secure; incorporating purposeful events that reoccur and specified time gives them a sense of security, while the anticipation of the event provides the happiness. As we enter this holiday season, let us be conscious of the traditions we want to incorporate into our children’s lives.

“Children remember the moments that happen again and again… the rituals that they can count on and make them feel safe and loved. Rituals and traditions can stay with them forever.” Galinsky 2001

About this Blog

The HRC Blog will be a place for sharing information on special topics of interest such as family support, early childhood development, etc. Submit blog entries to Nancy.Spiegel@harborrc.org.

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