4 Ways You’re Straining Your Relationship With Your Kids (Without Realising It)6 min read
The way parents speak to their kids may have more significance than you think. Here are 4 subtle pitfalls to avoid so that your relationship with your kid is not strained.
Dear fellow mommies, does this sound familiar to you?
“Mom! You never listen, you always think you’re right, but when I explain my viewpoint to you, you say I’m being disrespectful”
Or do you ever catch yourself saying things such as:
“Aiya, your generation I cannot understand la. Back in my day, we where got like that one!”
If these scenarios sound familiar to you, you might unknowingly be the cause of the distance you feel between you and your kids. As parents, we all mean well and want the best for our kids. We always tell them to “grow up” or “be more sensible” by saying “last time where got like that”, or “you all no big no small, argue with your mom, ah!”.
At the end of the day, it’s very easy to dismiss their behaviour as “rebellious”. There’s also a possibility where we write their entire generation off with words like “young people nowadays ah…”.
Nowadays with the internet and social media, the art of verbal communication is sometimes a little bit lost. Also, we have so many expectations of how we expect them to behave—we really do have our work cut out for us when it comes to communicating better with our kids. But don’t kanchiong, Umommy is here to share 4 things we can consider, to build stronger relationships with our kids.
1. “Why you cannot be like your cousins ah?!”: Comparing them against various “standards”
It’s very easy for us to say “Why can’t you be like X, Y and Z”, but have we considered how that might make them feel?
Research has shown that comparing your own kids to others can have negative effects that can become quite jialat for their self-esteem as they grow older.
Drawing comparisons can actually cause them to feel a lack of self-worth, leading to lower self-esteem. Then can also lead to other problems like an inability to engage in proper social interactions, as well as a sense of detachment from the core family unit. Like they kena sabo like that.
We can try instead, to help them work on what they think their weaknesses are, and celebrate their strengths, helping them realise and identify their true worth.
2. “Aiya, you don’t know meh? I thought you very clever one?”: Not being clear with your expectations
Like the first point, not being clear with your expectations could be just damaging to your relationship, setting expectations that they may not be clear could be just as impactful.
For instance, just as life is unpredictable, the circumstances your kids face may not be as clear-cut or simple as you expect or know it to be. Like I say just now, when we compare them against “standards”, sometimes may not be as realistic as we think it is.
At the end of the day, learning to see things from their perspective would really help you to build healthier relationships, as well as getting them to understand you, too.
3. “Don’t talk to me, I don’t have a child like you.”: Saying hurtful things in the heat of the moment
Saying hurtful things can have long-term implications that can further fracture your relationship with your children, either by seeding resentment, or eroding their self-esteem to the point where they become closed up.
Over time, these reactions become a learnt behaviour, creating problems that may prove to be harder to solve than it was to create. Then you ask yourself, “Why my children don’t want talk to me, ah?” That’s why lor.
We can avoid this, such as choosing to slow down during disagreements and work holistically together towards a resolution between both parties. As much as kids will be kids, they’re still human, and react just like any other person will during times when they’re unhappy. The key is in “seeking first to understand, then to be understood”.
4. “Children shouldn’t ask so many questions; just listen and follow la!”: Dismissing their views and shutting them down
Last time, I always scold my kids because they like to ask “Why like that ah, mommy, why cannot do the other way?”, and my reaction would always be, “children don’t ask so many questions la!”
But every now and then, I’ll remember, that these things, if not managed properly, can become learned behaviour for our children. Which was why I made it a point to help them understand when they felt like they couldn’t agree with me. Sometimes, I learnt something new about myself as a parent.
This might be a hard pill to swallow for some, but as human beings, we are all a little bit wrong sometimes—even as a parent.
At the end of the day, listening and understanding are key to building a strong, healthy, and functional relationship with your children. Just have to be steady a bit.
The family’s pillar of strength, affectionately called Umommy by the kids because she makes the best umami soups! Soft-spoken, generous and giving, she’s the official peacemaker of the family, helping to hold things together when times are bad.