Life Is Relational
It is impossible to exist outside of or apart from relationships and close ones involve people we see, talk to and hear daily. We work with and depend on these people. The relationships we have with them can be very good, very bad or somewhere in between. These close connections change us and enable us to influence change in others.
Every person will move through many different relationships during the course of their life and each one will leave its mark but none will be as important as the relationships we have in the family and there are many reasons why this is true.
The strongest influence on any person’s life, for good or bad, comes from the family. It is the first, it is the longest and is, therefore, the most influential relationship anyone will have.
Our first opinions were not arrived at through independent thought. They were imposed on us by the influence of this relationship. We accepted these initial ideas as gospel and assumed it was the common understanding.
There is no lag time between the conception of a child and the point at which they begin to experience “relationship.” This happens even in the womb of his or her mother. The child shares the moods of the mother, experiences the movements of the mother and obviously shares the same space. A fetus knows when mother is conversing with others and probably senses the emotional content of the conversation. They begin to relate to another human without even trying.
Once the child is born the process leaps into high gear and the person who is least able to contribute to the relationship is the child.
Children do not choose to be born and they don’t choose the parents to which they are born but they will intentionally choose many other relationships outside the family. Developing the discernment to know which relationships to pursue and which to avoid takes place in the home.
When family connections are strong and healthy, kids learn by experience what a good relationship looks and feels like. They know what to give and what to expect. Parent-child relationships managed in the right way provide a type of filter through which every other potential relationship can be assessed before it is engaged.
Why does this matter? Because relationship pain is the worst kind of pain in the world. Relationships are very easily established (even bad ones) but very difficult to dissolve and they never go away completely. When a person does manage to get out of a bad relationship it is never quite over. The pain doesn’t go away immediately and the scars are always there.
Parents cannot afford to miss the opportunity to engage relationally with their children. If they fail to bond strongly with their children the vacuum will be filled by the first relationship possibility that develops. That may be a very bad thing and even the parents can suffer with the pain of that choice for years.
A strong relationship in the home is protective. After a child gets a taste for an accepting, affirming and supportive relationship, it will be difficult for them to tolerate anything less.
Words Kids Need to Hear is another parenting-how-to offering by David Staal in which he explores seven key phrases or words every child needs to hear, words that strengthen the heart of a child.
Although these words should be heard first and most from parents, they are universal ideas. Every relationship can benefit by using these words sincerely and often.
A great companion book is Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.
Drawing on a wealth of data from the Gallup International Research & Education Centre, Marcus provides great insights on how to isolate a person’s particular blend of talents and strengths. Invaluable tool for every caring parent.