Relationships Matter

Blog Kathie Sarles

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: