Last Friday night, my teens insisted I watch the English movie, ‘The Hangover’ with them. I was initially reluctant as I generally don’t watch any English movie unless it interests me much like ‘Life of Pi‘ or ‘Eat Pray Love‘ etc. But, not wanting to disappoint my children I sat down to watch the movie.
I realized it was total fun to watch the English movie with them and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie with their comments, thoughts and laughs thrown in between. Of late, they are the ones who suggest good movies, books and songs and these are some of the ways I bond with my teens.
These types of bonding create an emotional and physical intimacy and bring out the best in one another. It also serves as a base for a loving relationship and opens up communication channels. These channels help the child to know that the parent is available for emotional support.
As a parent, I have bonded with my children at different stages in different ways and I have thoroughly enjoyed these moments which have translated into precious memories. I often recall their childhood memories to my children and they enjoy listening to them.
- As just born, it was a joy to hold them in my hand and cradle them by swinging left to right, enjoy their smiles, make eye contact and talk to them in their baby language.
- During their toddler years, it was through rhymes, singing, playing with their favorite toys, talking to them while doing household chores like chopping vegetables and introducing their names to them and playing role play, pretend games. Most of these games involved soft touches, hugs, kisses and caresses while interactive conversations happened.
- During their playschool years – listening to audio stories like Karadi Tales, reading out books like Magic pot and doing the activities like coloring, joining the dots etc., and playing outdoor games with other friends in the park.
- During the primary school years – reading lady bird books, Amar Chitra Katha, playing quiz games word games like hangman, playing synonyms and antonyms. Most of these were in a fun way on the bed either at noon or at night with both of them flanked by my side and my tummy as buzzer. At night, with the lights switched off it would be a pleasure to huddle on the bed and listen to the classical melodies. We would also bond over cooking simple recipes like assembling the burgers, submarine buns, arranging the veggies over the pizza etc.
- And now in their teenage years at 16 and 13, we bond over cooking and trying new recipes, watching TV, movies, listening to music, playing Pictionary, Scrabble, traditional games like Pallankuzhi etc., eating out, talking and listening to our daily happenings. During holidays, we huddle together on the bed and browse their childhood photo albums and recall those special moments. Travelling together to destinations and discussing during our road trips all help us to bond with our teens.
Today, while many of my peers say they don’t know what to discuss with their teens or many say that their teens don’t share or communicate to them or have to be prodded to get monosyllable answers, it feels nice as parents that our children are able to bond and connect and communicate with us. Even today story telling is a part of our bonding session only now it has graduated from fairy tales to historical and more realistic stories. I narrate to them the historical stories and stop at crucial places, they don their thinking caps and then their discussions, insights and perspectives follow.
The mode of Bonding varies at different stages but is essential to nurture a healthy & emotionally secure child. But of course, I am cautious about over bonding too.
Hugging the infant to our bosom, showering the toddler with kisses, ruffling the child’s hair, caressing the kids forehead, talking and listening to the teenager are some of the ways we bond with our children and very much essential for a healthy child parent relationship. I believe it is through these hugs, cuddles, kisses, talks, story and play sessions that our child will learn about our values, beliefs and we exchange our expectations. All these results in a happier and secure child. It also helps us to know our child better.
Many times as parents we are always disciplining the child with too many do’s and don’ts ending up as nag pot parents. I think it is important to loosen our strings and be a little more participative in their activities and demonstrate our love with those hugs, cuddles, kisses etc.,
What are your thoughts on this issue? How do you bond with your toddler/child/tween/teen?
Asha Balakrishnan is a hardware design engineer by profession, a certified online grader for SAT, GRE, GMAT and other essays by choice, A SAHM, a blogger. Born in Chennai, brought up in Bangalore and now she calls Hyderabad her home. A mother to two teens aged 15 and 13.