Connecting with Your Kids

A mother connecting with her kid

(photo credit thanks to sai de silva)

Do you feel like you’re not connecting with your kids?

Wishing you could find better ways of connecting with your kids?

When my kids were little, they’d come to me and want me to fix what was wrong in their lives.

I fell and skinned my knee = a bandaid and a kiss

Tucker is teasing me = a little time apart

Can’t fall asleep = an extra story and a back tickle

Those were all wonderful ways of connecting with my kids, but as they grew older, those go-to solutions weren’t as effective, and much of the time, not what was really needed, and sometimes I wasn’t sure how to feel more connected to my kids.

In fact, what it took me ages to understand, is that the kids weren’t really after solutions at all.

When they had a complaint about a teacher, or a friend situation or a headache, they weren’t looking for me to “fix” anything. They were simply looking for me to listen.

To hear them, to see them and to acknowledge what was going on in their life.

It took me a while to get it. In fact, it’s still a practice, especially when they call home from their new, away-from-home locations, and open up about what’s happening in their lives, good and bad.

Of course, I welcome and receive the good. Awesome! I’m so happy to hear everything is going so well!

But when they begin to share their woes and struggles, my Mama propensity is to jump straight in and start making suggestions as to how they can remedy the situation.

But before I get too far, I remember these two magic words – That Sucks.

Yup. Those are the words! Crazy, right? But I’m telling you they totally work!

Here’s a fictitious example of my old way versus my new.

Daughter: My roommate wore my favorite sweater and got a hole in it.

Me: She did what? You’ve hardly worn that sweater. Did you tell her that it doesn’t work for her to borrow your stuff without permission and moving forward you’ll need to…

Daughter: Mom. Mom! I can handle this. I have to go.


Daughter: My roommate wore my favorite sweater and got a hole in it.

Me: Ugh, that sucks. Sorry to hear that.

Daughter: Thanks. Yeah I was really bummed, but we worked it out and she’s going to ask me before borrowing any of my clothes again.

Me: Awesome. Sounds like you figured it out.

Big difference – instead of me solving her problem, she gets to own it and solve it herself.

These are my words, for my kids, at this age. That Sucks may not work for you, so find your own version, especially if your kids are younger:

Oh, no. I’m sorry you’re going through that.

Is there anything I can do to help?

That’s too bad. I’m sorry.

We all want to be seen, heard and validated and with everything going on in the world, with the enormity of suffering, loss, grief, uncertainty, isolation and more, this is a perfect time to practice this ever so important skill of just being present and listening.

Try it yourself and see if this way of connecting with your kids works for you!

Of course, a good dose of laughter is always terrific medicine…

So, I thought I’d share my all time favorite video which illustrates exactly what I’m talking about.

Just see me. Just hear me. Just validate me.

And don’t you dare try to fix me!

​Want to know more about our story and what led me to this moment? I speak about the deep impact our daughter’s premature birth had on our lives in this interview with Random House. 

You can read more about my book, Preemie, HERE.