Modern Day Prodigal Son

Posted: October 28, 2010 in Family Ties - relationships

    One of my daily blog subscriptions, “All Pro Dad” is an awesome blog to dads regarding ‘real life’ parenting.  Below is one of their recent posts – a great skit and followup tips for connecting with lost, struggling kids.Our goal as parents is to raise our children to be mature, independent adults, but sometimes, there are bumps in the road along the way.  Here’s an example of one such rough patch in the parable of the Lost Son told by the Skit Guys…full of humor, and heart. 

    When we think of parenthood, we idealistically dream of wonderful moments and strong happy families. Sometimes life has other plans and challenges for us. Parents can struggle to connect with their own children. Step-parents can be resented and rejected by the children of their new spouse. In all such cases, an unhealthy living situation can evolve. Direct and patient steps must be taken to create a loving and functioning family that will thrive. Here are some ideas to help with this difficult task.

  1. Honest AnalysisTake a step back and look at the entire picture as an overview. Attempt to pinpoint when things might have changed. Was there a certain event? A moment that created distrust? Is your spouse contributing knowingly or unknowingly to the situation? The causes could be many, but it’s important to try to understand the root of the problem.
  2. ActionAfter determining where the problem may lie, certainly begin to take action. Children need strong guidance and especially love. Neither can be had when resentment or rejection have taken hold. Immediately and tirelessly dedicate yourself to finding a way to properly connect with your child.
  3. Ice BreakersA thaw in the relationship is needed. Find a way to break the ice and establish a positive moment. Bribery is not the answer, but a well thought out gift can work wonders at times. An adorable teddy bear. The skateboard he’s been wanting. Tickets to the Jonas Brothers. Something that is meaningful to your child. No strings attached. No long drawn out lectures. Just something nice to show you care.
  4. Common GroundWhat things do you have in common? Sports? Music? Math? Could be anything that both of you enjoy. Find it and use it. Relationships are built on mutual respect and common ground. Perhaps your step-son is a basketball player and you played in high school. Toss him the ball and challenge him to show you what he’s got. If he drops the ball and walks inside, try again the next day. Don’t get discouraged. Eventually the temptation to take out his animosity towards you is going to overcome him and he’ll play. The idea is to find a way to be together.
  5. DemeanorAre you quiet and shy? Strong and demanding? Loud and obnoxious? Fun loving and easy going? How are you coming across to this child who is rejecting you? You want her to feel at ease with you. Maybe she is intimidated by your presence. Try to always use calm, friendly tones. If you are shy, try to give reassuring smiles her way. Open up. If you are strong and loud, tone it down and relax. Your demeanor could have everything to do with the problem.
  6. RespectLack of respect creates great divides. Quite possibly you are not being respected by your rejecting child. There are screaming matches, threats and big scenes. None of this is helping your cause. Give them the respect they deserve even if it’s not reciprocated. Knock on their door before entering. Stay off the phone if they are on it. Little things that show a level of mutual understanding. You deserve the same respect back, but it will have to be earned. One of you has to give in first and you are the adult. Act like it.
  7. UnderstandingIt is vital you be patient and understanding. Relationships can be difficult and take a long time to grow. Do your best to comprehend who your child is and what they are going through. Learn how they think and react. Figure out why they are hurting. Winning “hearts and minds” requires understanding of your opponent. Your child is not an opponent. But, in this situation, is indeed the object of your challenge.
  8. Personal InventoryWhat kind of man are you? It’s time to take stock and see where you are falling short. We are all flawed in many ways. Perhaps your shortcomings are creating this rejection. Do you treat others decently and honestly? Are you kind hearted and compassionate? Children have strong abilities to sense when something is not right. A hard and honest look in the mirror is required on a regular basis. Change for the better and remember you can be and are forgiven.
  9. CounselingIn some cases, family counseling may be called for. Whether through your place of worship or a secular organization, therapy can be extremely beneficial. A skilled outside party that can get past the obstacles standing in the way and find the root of the trouble. Your relationship with your child is worth every possible effort.
  10. The Big CCommunication. Simple and direct. The key to everything in life. If you aren’t talking, then nothing can be accomplished. Trust stems from communication and trust is only found in honesty. Never give up trying to establish this bond with your child. Adjust your tactics as required but each day work on it. Use humor, wisdom or whatever you can. Just open those lines up.
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