The Crucial Role of a Parent

Few friends of GCF could have missed that we promote families at all times. We don’t want children to have their childhood pass them by, living in a Child and Youth Care Centre without sound experiences of family life. Many of the children placed at the organisation’s centre, or with Temporary Safe Care parents, return to their own rehabilitated families and the ones who, for different reasons, cannot go back home are placed in approved foster families.

Most parents know that they play a crucial role in the upbringing and development of their children, no matter if it’s their biological (or someone else’s) children they care for. But, perhaps not to what extent.

Children who are cared for sensitively and have available, accessible and flexible parents already from the beginning of life, develop a secure attachment with them. They feel understood, accepted and valued and are assisted in making choices. This automatically builds on their self-esteem, self-awareness and how to manage thoughts, feelings and behaviour in order to build positive relationships also outside the family.

In all this, communication is key. Note that it does not have to be words, as actions often speak louder. An act of giving, writing a note, drawings on a piece of paper, playing and listening to a story together is communication too. Not to forget, how body language and emotions say much more than we think.

Sometimes communication can be difficult, especially when it comes to certain topics, like death, money, religion, sex, drugs and alcohol. Please, don’t avoid it and preferably start early when they are still young, but in a very basic way which can be built on when the children become older and more mature. If you don’t do it, they will likely be informed, probably misinformed, by their peers or media instead. But, if you do, your children will most likely feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns and questions.

Every parent has moments when they struggle with communication with their children in one way or another, but don’t give up, there is always time for improvement. The following tips might assist you:

  • Put aside talking and listening time. Family meals, without the distractions of TV and cellphones, are great for this.
  • Show that you are 100% focused on your children when having interactions and conversations with them, again without the presence of cell phones, TV entertainment and similar
  • Talk about everyday matters you go through in the day. Much communication makes it easier to talk also when harder issues come up.
  • Talk about all feelings, as it helps children develop their “feeling vocabulary”. Remember to come down, when something has upset you, before talking with your children about it.
  • Keep an eye on their body language and respond to the non-verbal messages they send out.
  • Involve them in conversations. It’s easy, just ask “what do you think about that?”

Communication between parents and children is important and that’s why we have covered the topic in several of GCF’s training for parents over time. Good two-way communication leads to stable and healthy family relationships, which is what we strive towards. One family at the time.  

Written by Anna-Karin Öhrnstedt

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