She is writing about relationships with children, her children, our children. She is author, blogger, mom and philosopher, Katrina Kenison.
She is talking about parenting, one of our toughest jobs, a job where there are no guarantees.
Kenison asked her 24 year old son for parenting advice that she could share at a public speaking engagement. That took courage because their relationship had not been an easy one. But that conversation led to her post and I am grateful that it did.
She writes, “We are a nation of distracted, multi-tasking “do’ers” and driven, insatiable consumers – of social media, of stimulation, and of stuff. We are also addicted to our phones. But we are losing the art of connecting face to face, heart to heart, in the here and now.”
That loss is felt by parents and children, alike. So, Kenison offers wonderful, practical ideas for reconnecting:
- Be curious.
- Ask; don’t tell.
- Seek connection, not control.
- Work on yourself, not your child.
- Give your child the gift of failure.
- Value effort over achievement, process over results.
- Take the long view; look for progress, not perfection.
- Offer the gift of your attention.
- Sit with discomfort.
- Tell the truth.
- Ask for help.
- Choose love over fear.
- Seize the joy.
As she wrote about our teenagers being gone before we know it, I was suddenly so aware of the fact that our lives will be gone before we know it, too.
But Kenison offers ideas for “…hanging out” that might help everyone reconnect, like walking the dog together, folding laundry, chopping vegetables or eating a late night bowl of cereal. Playing a board game. Working on a puzzle together.
These are such small things, inexpensive things but the very things that help to weave the fabric of a relationship tighter. Shared moments matter.
As I read yet another remarkable essay from Kenison, I realized very quickly that her advice for building relationships with teenagers is some of the best advice I have ever read for building relationships – full stop.
Sometimes we are so busy looking ahead — the next birthday, the big trip, our retirement — that we miss the life of our very lives, altogether.
Put down your cell phone. Turn off the television. Disconnect from the Internet.
Take a minute today to breathe, to really listen to your husband or wife or friend. Try not to tell; today, try asking.
Step outside. Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, the soft wind singing through the pine boughs, the birds calling out the arrival of another Spring.
Live. Now. Before it is too late.