Speaking of bonding in this context, is not so much about making a relationship that didn’t previously exist. This is more about realizing that there may be a shift in the relationship given a new family structure. Furthermore, that you want to stay connected through that shift.
Kids, almost of any age learn which parent to go to for what. With both available, they had an immediate choice. Perhaps homework with one and personal hygiene issues with the other. Food prep with one and television with the other, and so on.
With the Internet, social media and instant messaging, both may remain accessible. There is still something about being in each other’s personal space that makes having that connection, where one can address sensitive issues with the closest person available, more desirable.
- Article Continued Below -
To Our Newsletter
If however, the child feels uncomfortable having to address things with one parent previously addressed by the other, this can create awkward moments. It is those awkward moments, particularly if strung together that can undermine the warmth and quality of the parent-child relationship.
So, in thinking about bonding activities, these are just any activities you can do together with your child that enables contact, talking and risking vulnerability.
When thinking of an activity, let your child take the lead.
The more the activity is aligned with their interests, the more relaxed and open they are likely to be. For some this may take a bit of negotiation. Just remember though, this is about the kids feeling connected to you. Your openness to finding something of their interest helps keep things easier.
Once engaged in an activity, you can then take the lead and comment on how you are doing while then wondering how they are doing. It’s not that you are unloading on your kids emotionally but acknowledging that transitions take time to get used to.
Your acknowledging this first and then taking an interest in them helps pave the way. This, in a sense give permission for them to open up about their feelings.
While some may think it the activity that creates connection. This just isn’t quite right.
A real connection is emotional. For that we key into what is going on for our kids and how they are feeling about it, all while allowing them to just speak and own their emotions. The activity is just the vehicle to enable this.
As we accept, they tend to feel safe and closer.
That’s what bonding is all about.
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 600 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.