If you’re here, you’re probably wondering how to reconnect with your kid. Sometimes understanding their world feels impossible, right?
As parents, we get it! It’s a major challenge and it doesn’t help that all of the online parenting advice is the same. It promises good relationships with kid’s conversation starters but we often wonder, “is there something beyond a checklist of questions?”
The answer is yes (but if you were looking for great lists of questions to get you started.. we’ve got that too)!
But before we get into that, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Can you recall a conversation you had with someone who desperately wanted to prove they were cool? Maybe it was a boss or a family member who had brushed up on all the current slang. They worked it into the conversation every chance they had just to get your stamp of approval. Do you remember how awkward that conversation was? Didn’t you just want it to end as soon as possible?
Ok, hold on to that memory. Let’s call up another one.
Do you remember a time you were forced to do an activity you didn’t want to do? Maybe it was a game of office charades. Maybe you had to participate in a family activity that just made you squirm. Whatever the situation, you were desperate to get out. It didn’t matter that the activity was supposed to bring everyone closer, all it did was make you feel anxious and embarrassed.
Now, what does this have to do with reconnecting with your kid?
Simply put, everything.
There are two traps that parents often fall into. It’s time to learn to avoid them.
1) Stop trying to be cool to your kid.
Re-connecting with your kid is not about trying to impress them.
Slipping into this pitfall can have the opposite effect on your kid; it can end up being a dangerous lesson.
Rather than creating a connection, this builds barriers.
Let’s face it: kids are perceptive. They can easily recognize when someone is being inauthentic.
Remember how you felt dealing with someone who just wanted to impress you. Wasn’t the greatest part about the entire conversation the moment it ended?
When you try to sound cool to your kid, they’ll push away instead of wanting to reconnect. After all, why would they want to be honest with someone who is just trying to impress them?
But, that’s not the most significant effect.
It sets the example that being yourself isn’t enough.
Trying to impress your kids with your knowledge of current trends and slang demonstrates this harmful message. One of our most important parenting goals is to empower our kids to be authentic without giving into the pressure of making it into the “in-crowd.”
So, what are we teaching them when we abandon our real selves and put on a front when trying to connect with them?
We’re teaching them it’s ok to change yourself in order to fit in.
It doesn’t matter what we’ve told them. It’s our actions that speak the loudest.
2) Stop treating reconnection like a checklist.
Let’s explain. There is nothing wrong with using a list of questions to reconnect with your kid! But if you stop there, you could miss out on an entire world of chances to connect.
At their core, conversation starters begin the process of rebuilding but, on their own, they’re not enough. They’re just good icebreakers. In the long term, they’ll fall short of bridging the gap or open it up even wider.
Think about when you were forced into that work or family activity you didn’t want to do. Rather than getting you to open up, it caused you to shut down and withdraw. Your kid might feel the same way about being singled out to sit down and answer conversation questions. They might even feel like it isn’t genuine but a way to check off a box on the list of daily tasks.
Remember how we just talked about kids' incredible ability to sense when someone’s being inauthentic?
So it’s time to start thinking creatively about connecting with your kid.
What brings them joy right now and how could you participate?
Maybe your kid loves keeping up with TikTok or Instagram dance trends. What if you had them teach you the steps so you could join one of their videos? Let’s be honest. It could be SO embarrassing and you might lay awake at night, hoping the video never makes it onto social media. But, think about your kid. What are they going to remember? A few awkward moments or the laughs you both had as you struggled to learn the steps?
Maybe it’s surprising them with an all-out Nerf gun war. Let’s face it. You’ll probably wake up the next day with sore muscles and a stiff back (at least we will since we’re over 30). But think about your kid again. They’ll forever have the memories of weaving through furniture to ambush you. They’ll remember the time they perfectly bounced a Nerf bullet off your forehead. That laughter and joy will always stick with them.
These examples might not apply to your kid and that’s ok! There’s no one-size solution for building better relationships.
But, who knows your kid better than you?
Start leveraging that knowledge to create unique ideas for connection.
There’s nothing wrong with using a list of questions to get started (in fact, we have a couple of helpful links below)! If you know your kid would love to sit down for a chat, utilize that! Keeping some good conversation starters handy can help overcome the first hurdle of getting your kid talking.
All that matters is a genuine effort to reconnect with your kid.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide how to strengthen your relationship. It may seem daunting but think of it as an opportunity. Be as creative as you want while also remembering that some ideas to reconnect will work better than others. That’s ok! Each time you put in a genuine effort to reconnect with your kid, you take one little step closer to bridging the gap.
The Aqua One helps get you there.
With its seamless integration into your Parent Dashboard, it's the only smartphone that gives you unlimited access to their world. You can see every action your kid takes on the Aqua One so you'll have insight into all the fun things they're doing online (not just the bad ones!). No more feeling left in the dark. Your path to connection is open!