Healthy Parenting: Timely Maintenance Required

By Traci L. Gaffney

When you own a home, car, boat, motorcycle, lawnmower, appliance, etc., it is expected that you would need to do some maintenance to keep such items in good working order. Sometimes we do preventative maintenance, before something goes wrong. Other times, we need to respond to a sound or leak that informs us immediate attention is required.

Because children tend to grow up, in spite of what we feed them, say to them, and even sometimes do to them, we assume little or no relationship maintenance is required. Let’s face it, if they go on strike, we pull the “I’m the boss” card. If they become a squeaky wheel, we ask them to stop squeaking.

If we don’t maintain our relationships with our children, it is similar to not having all of the gauges on the dashboard of our car. We are driving blind. The only real difference is that we can replace our car or our engine, if they break down. We can’t replace our child, and it’s not easy to restore their inner peace when they crash and burn.

Just think …

  • Like appliances and cars, some issues with our children can go unnoticed for a long period of time. It doesn’t mean the problem isn’t developing; it just means we haven’t noticed it yet.
  • Our children may “appear” to be doing fine. But, if we haven’t checked in and connected, if we haven’t done the regular maintenance to know that things are fine, we may be surprised around the corner.
  • When an appliance breaks, we replace it. When our kids check out, we have drug and alcohol issues, long term emotional trauma, and broken relationships; costly on many levels.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I noticing any new behaviors in my child?
  • Has my child stopped talking to me?
  • What kind of friends are they attracting? Why?
  • Have their grades changed?
  • Do I see him smile as often as he used to?
  • Does she look and sound happy?
  • How long has it been since I checked in?
  • When was our last quality time together?
  • Do I know what my child loves to do with me?

Sometimes children are going through stages and phases, and there is nothing to worry about. Knowing your child, continually building a respectful relationship with them, and having a sense of your child’s personal “norm,” will allow you the ability to determine the difference between a stage shift and a potential problem.

Children don’t always have words for what they are feeling. If you check in on a regular basis, you can catch potential issues early. Continue building trust and connection with your children, no matter their ages. It will bless them more than you can imagine, and will allow you to leave a beautiful legacy.

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