What do you really value in life? What are you communicating about your priorities to the ones you love (especially your kids)—whether intentionally or unintentionally?
Many of us seem to have two conflicting priorities: relationships versus things. We’ve regressed in relational health, particularly with the distractions of technology and busyness.
Relationships are enduring—things are not. The way we communicate this to our teens and children lies in how we prioritize our time, attention, and money. How are you doing in the following areas?
1. Be fully in the moment. When you’re with your child, be completely engaged (not on your phone, Facebook, Instagram, Candy Crush, etc.)
2. Keep family (and close friends) at the top of your priority list in terms of time and energy. Don’t just give them leftovers. They’ll notice, even if they don’t mention it.
3. Focus on the important, not the urgent. Our tasks may seem urgent, but our relationships (especially ones with our spouse and children) should take priority. This is especially important when our children want or need to talk.
4. Tune in to their uniqueness. Gifts, experiences, and expressions engender different responses from each of us. What uniquely means the most to them?
5. Express appreciation regularly. Be grateful for the people in your life and tell them how much you appreciate them. You don’t always have to communicate with outward displays of affection. Sometimes simple actions, like saying, “I appreciate you,” packing your young one’s favorite lunch (with a note in it), or doing an unasked favor can be just as meaningful.
6. Praise them in front of other people. Say something nice about them when they are in earshot. You will help build their self worth and indirectly communicate how much you value them.
7. Set aside time and money for special occasions and gifts. This may be harder for those whose “love” languages are not gift giving or quality time. But they mean the world for those who really need these things in order to feel loved and appreciated.
8. Forgive offenses quickly and let them go. After all, you’d want your kids to do the same for you, if you messed up, right? Pick your battles carefully and when arguments do arise, keep your cool.
Dennis Trittin is President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead and co-author of Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. With world-class leadership experience, passionate advocacy for the next generation, and acclaimed resources and speaking engagements on the topics of leadership, life skills, and parenting, Dennis inspires and equips young people and those who guide them. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter!