5 Habits that Disconnect You from Your Kids
Each of us, in part because of our families and our society, holds various assumptions about what bonds and connects us to our children. For instance, we might think that filling our house with toys will make them happy—possibly hoping to make up for our absence. We might think that prioritizing their needs over ours is the right thing to do—and anything else would simply be selfish.
Sometimes these assumptions are subconscious. We don’t even realize we have them. After all, logically we know that possessions aren’t a meaningful way to cultivate a healthy, connected relationship. But when we’re getting home from work after 8 p.m. almost every night, we find ourselves clutching a new toy to surprise our little one (and to ease the guilt of what we think is a terrible offense: missing time). Logically we know that it’s not helpful to deplete ourselves. But we feel the pull to sacrifice, believing somewhere down deep that martyrdom underlies good parenting.
The above are just several examples of habits that diminish our connection with our kids. Below you’ll learn exactly why—along with other sources of disconnection and what actually works in helping you become closer.
Disconnecting Habit #1: Using technology in front of your kids.
We carry our phones with us everywhere we go. Which makes it all-too easy to check your email, to scroll through social media. Just for a minute or two. But these several minutes inevitably distract us, and they send the message to our kids that our time with them just isn’t that valuable to us (even though we don’t feel this way at all).
“Parents spending too much time on electronic devices can lead to negative attention-seeking behaviors on the part of young children in order to gain your full attention,” said Rebecca Ziff, LCSW, a psychotherapist who specializes in working with kids, teens and families.
Pay attention to how and how often you use your devices in front of your kids. If it’s more than you like, put your phone in a drawer in another room (or leave it in the car). Because when you’re keeping your phone in a purse or pocket, you don’t even realize that you’ve taken it out and started scrolling. Because it’s become that much of an ingrained habit.
Disconnecting Habit #2: Not taking care of yourself.
It is so easy to overlook yourself. Maybe you hold the above assumptions that you must put yourself last in order to be a good parent. Or maybe you work full-time. Maybe you’re the main breadwinner. Maybe you stay at home with your kids or homeschool them. Maybe you’re up late into the night and wake up early in the morning because you’re trying to balance working from home and parenting. And, of course, you have all the other usual responsibilities adults have: cooking, cleaning, paying bills, folding laundry sometime in this lifetime. In short, it’s a lot.
Either way, what gets left off the list is you and your needs. But, as Ziff said, “It is very difficult to be attuned to others’ needs when your own needs are not being met.” Your energy wanes. You start to feel resentful. You’re too tired or too frustrated or too stressed to enjoy your kids.