Sharing experiences with your child will help develop their character and self esteem for years to come.
Here are ways to share healthy experiences with your child and bond deeply...
Share the good and bad, and bond with your child.
Several years ago, my little King Charles Cavalier was killed in my backyard by a coyote. It was horrible. I loved that little dog because he was like my shadow. After he disappeared I looked through the day and night for him and finally found him in the tall grass in a pasture abutting my yard.
When I found him, my 4-year-old granddaughter was with me. She loved the dog too. I bent down, picked him up and we both burst into tears. I don’t know who cried harder- she or I. I wrapped him in his favorite blanket and the two of us buried him. Some of you may feel that I should never had let her see this but I had no choice. When I looked for him, I couldn’t leave her in the house alone. As I buried him with her beside me she asked of dogs go to heaven.
“Yes,” I said. “I believe they do. When Adam and Eve lived in the garden of Eden there were animals there. I have come to believe that heaven is a lot like the garden.
“Oh good” she said. “That means that my grandma will be able to take care of him. I miss her.”
My granddaughter is almost 6 and she still talks about my little dog. She says that she gets sad and she draws pictures of him. We talk about her grandma in heaven and we talk about the dog.
No one understands the feelings that we had and the meaningfulness of that conversation. The experience bound us together is a very special way. In that moment, and the days following it, we became connected in a deep way. Of course, she has a close relationship with her parents but she and I have a special bond because of sharing pain.
You don’t have to go away or to funerals with your kids to connect well.
Sharing a common experience also pertains to the mundane and normal.
Another way to foster greater connection with your child is having something special that only the two of you do.
My father used to take me to work on Saturdays when I was a young child and then we’d eat pastries in Harvard Square. My sister and brothers didn’t get to come. It way my Dad and I’s special time. This time we shared ensured we were closer as I grew into a woman, I never questioned if my father had time for me. I knew I could go to him for anything, and he’d make time for me as I grew into a woman, a mother, a professional, an individual. I always remembered those times together fondly, pulling apart sticky and pastries and chatting while my father hung on to my every word, kindly I may add.
Many patients have told me about such times they had with their mother or father. Some got closer to their fathers and mothers when they went camping. They struggled to put up tents, fight off ants or bees or cold food from a can. Their parents planned the trips for the purpose of sharing an experience with their kids. Did the kids want to go camping? Most didn’t. But when it was over, they confided in me that they are grateful for having gone. They learned things about their parents they never knew. And they got along better afterwards.