Dr. Rich Patterson

What Kids Need:  Family Support

In this series, I will talk about what kids need in their life.  What needs to be there for them to develop strong character and, reliable resiliency in their life?  Today I want to talk about family support.  Family support is critical and according to research, only 57% of kids report feeling like they have family support.  What does this look like when it is at its best?

To start, it looks like verbally supporting their whims and peculiarities.  This support includes not only the adults in the home but also other siblings and relatives that are around.  When an older brother makes fun of something a younger one in the family says or does, it causes them to lose confidence in themselves and damages their self-esteem over time.  Show love and caring for each other, including between the parents.  Model this consistently so that the child feels like the best place to be loved is in the home with their family.  The love and support help build resiliency in the child upon which they can draw later when placed in those situations that require the strength of character, morals, and good judgment.  That takes an excessive amount of self-confidence, which is built when with people that care about them.

A third way to build family support has family time together, being together with both parents, all the kids, and doing stuff together and talking confidently without feeling any risk of ridicule or put-downs.  Family support is best when it comes from both parents, mother, and father.  My father was gone all week and was home only on the weekends.  During the week, my mom did her best to run the family and keep things going home, but I’m sure it was tough for her.  I think about all of the times sitting down together for an evening meal and how nice it would have been to have my dad present.  He worked evenings primarily so that he could get paid more money.  In his later years, he admitted to me that the extra money wasn’t worth it in the long run.  Taking time and making sacrifices is what solid parenting is about, and family time is at the center.  Take time to have fun together, overlooking short-comings and mistakes of the past.  Give everyone a fresh start with family time.

Fourth, spend time one on one with your child.  By taking time with them one on the one you learn more about them, have a chance to make the most difference in their lives.  I had a paper route for many years when I was young, from eight years old into high school when I took a job.  I remember my mom helping me count money, talking to me, and helping to select coins for my coin collection, which I still have today.  Occasionally she would sit with me and talk to me, holding me and helping me to feel so safe and calm.  It is a peace that I’ve never know since to that degree, and I sure wish that it would have lasted longer.  Take time one-on-one with your kids, and enjoy their unique personality, support it, encourage them to develop their strengths, not just offer cautions about life.

Fifth, encourage your kids to have their friends over to the house.  Talk with them about what they would do, what things would they need, and help them to set-up time to do that.  Talking time with your young person in this way helps them to feel proud of their home, their family, and gives you as a parent a chance to learn more about their friends.  I challenge you to choose a couple of these for the next week and give them a try with your young person.  Then leave me a comment below.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich