Paul’s tweet gave me a nudge to dig a little deeper.
My relationship with my kids started before they were born.
It started with how I approach my marriage:
- No Secrets (link to my post on why)
- I Can Handle Bad News
The “no secrets” policy can be inconvenient but it has big benefits.
#1 => it makes it difficult for creeps to enter my life.
#2 => it’s an effective technique to lower stress and anxiety – especially when combined with daily movement in nature.
This openness applies in all areas – phone, email, opinions.
Sitting in a car with a kid – we all do it.
Sitting in a car with a kid, and a culture of openness… that’s different.
So there is the culture my kids were born into – openness and a willingness to hear uncomfortable truths.
Then, before there was much to talk about… we went on short 1-on-1 trips. I started this around the time of our oldest’s 3rd birthday.
There wasn’t a master strategy. I simply wanted to give my wife some relief. Later, I wanted to offer her a chance to get to know our younger kids (our oldest has had a strong personality from the get go).
The trips worked. Not just for kids, by the way – we do Couples Retreats and, as a young man in London, train trips with the partners were GOLD.
I like to connect in my best environment. Do you know yours? Mine is mountain forests.
Some other forums that work:
- Walking together
- Driving home in the dark, after exercise
- Somewhere disconnected – we did a five-day trip without screens/phones
- Looking at a campfire
- Floating on water
Phone in airplane mode, turn off the music, expect nothing to happen.
The moments of connection are a tiny piece of the actual time I spend with my family.
I need to be there, and I need to be open to whatever happens.
Wanting to lead from a position of integrity is a motivator. I’ve been setting up the teen years since our oldest turned 8.
It’s helped me make positive changes with regard to my relationship with alcohol, social media, email, bedside phones and anger.
The phrase, “you will need to decide what sort of life you want to lead” is far more powerful when my kids don’t need me to explain my choices in words.
The process of positive change isn’t a whole lot of fun but coaching a winning team is deeply satisfying.
Everybody wants to play for a winning team!