Friday, August 12, 2011

Successful Parent/Child Interactions

What qualifies as a successful parent/child interaction? The child agrees to do what the parent wants? The child changes their future behavior because of the interaction? The parent accomplishes whatever they were hoping to accomplish through the interaction? The child does not fuss, complain, talk back or argue? The child is obedient?

How do you define a successful parent/child interaction?

My husband and I were have a discussion with one of our girls about painting on the walls. She had painted sea creatures on her bedroom wall and now wanted a larger canvas. Could she paint on the living room walls? We discussed that option and came to the conclusion that in shared areas, like the living room, everyone in the family should have a voice in what was on the walls. As it turned out, not everyone in the family wanted sea creatures painted on the living room walls. We discussed other possible options and we agreed that the hall bathroom was in need of painting and sea creatures seemed at home in a bathroom, so this became her new walls for painting.

For me, a successful parent/child interaction is defined as an interaction when I am the parent I want to be regardless of the situation. When I manage to stay rational and respectful no matter how dramatic the moment or how strong my child's emotions; when I am thoughtful and sincere and I do not expect my child to handle the moment with any more maturity than they are already demonstrating.

When I focus on everyone's needs, instead of getting grumpy about my own needs or discounting the needs of my child, we have a successful interaction. When my child feels love, heard, and understood; when I express how I am feeling without blaming, shaming or making someone else feel guilty we have successful interactions. Any time we feel more connected we have had a successful interaction. When we are silly and get the giggles, solve a problem, watch a movie, work through strong emotions and find our way back to peace, and even when we are sitting together in the same room with each person doing their own thing, we are successful.

When my love for my children is louder than any other voice in my head, any message from society, any critical comment from a stranger on the street or a friend on facebook, when I remember that nothing is more important than my relationship with my children, that is when I am successfully the parent I want to be.


  1. Very well put Jenna. My oldest and I had almost the exact conversation. She wanted to paint the family room walls, however our conversation went a tad differently. I explained that the family room is a room where everyone gathers and that everyone in the family had different likes and dislikes, I then asked her if she thought it would be fair for me to go into her bedroom and paint tigers a bamboo all over her walls because that is what I like. She said, "No, that's not my thing mom, that's yours" I explained the family room is everyone's room and we need to decorate it fir the family as a whole, that while we all think she is a very talented artist, her subject matter is not something we all like. I then suggested the large rolls of white paper, that she could put on her walls and that we can have an area in the family room that she could display her artwork and creativity.