Establishing Relationships

A 30-year veteran Marriage Family and Child therapist, mother of five, and grandmother of 10, Lorraine Al-Jamie helps parents to acquire skills that enhance their ability to raise high-functioning and happy children.

Establishing Relationships

THE building of relationships depends on building common interests. This process begins at birth, and you can observe it when mothers and fathers hold their newborns and echo the sounds that their newborns make. For their parents, everything young babies do is fascinating and this makes the task easier. Whether it is just seeing them yawn for the first time, or their first sneeze, each new thing provides a new shared experience. However, as they get older they sometimes become interested in things that are meaningless to us: for instance, mom will have little interest in the toy truck her little boy is pushing around. However, at that age the mother is still captivated by the child’s enjoyment and, therefore, remains present and sometimes involved. But I think we have all experienced a situation in which we, lost in our own thoughts, have struggled to pay attention to our child while he tugs our clothes saying, “Mommy” or “Daddy.” However, if we do make the effort to engage with our children, there is much satisfaction to be had in the interaction.

Let’s talk about a few examples of children of different ages, starting with the youngest. Mommy and the truck is just one example. Another involves a daughter asking for daddy’s help to dress her dolls. He might take part for a while, but may be tempted to end the activity long before she is ready.

As they get older, children come home with stories of school or the playground. To them it is fascinating stuff, but many times we find ourselves listening with only one ear and answering with, “Hmmm” or “Uh-uh.” If you think they don’t pick up on that, you’re mistaken. The more assertive child will continue to vie for our full attention for a while, but even they will give up eventually. The less assertive child gives up very easily. What is the child’s feeling following that interaction? I expect there is disappointment, a feeling of insignificance and finally anger. This may well be one of the reasons that children act out.

It is so much easier for school-age children to do their homework if it is something they can talk about with a parent. This does not mean that the parent does the homework, rather that, valuing the information that the child draws from the homework, the parent helps them to engage with it. From the time my children were in elementary school, I made the effort to read whatever books they were reading. This was not because I felt the need to monitor the information, but because I wanted to be able to share their experience. It gave us something in common to talk about and a frame of reference that we shared.

As children get into their teens, initiating a true interest in their lives may be perceived as intrusiveness. However, it is much easier for them to see it as a continued interest if they continually experienced such interest throughout their childhood. Music is one area in which parents and children may have very different tastes, and we are required as parents to at least make an effort to expose ourselves to what they find enthralling.

Even as our children are growing into adulthood and separating from us, we can continue to maintain close relationships by developing common interests. There are times when our children will be interested in things we would never think of exploring. However, often we should make the effort to stay engaged with what captures their interests. For instance, if mom likes to spend Sundays with her adult children, then she may have to learn how to appreciate football.

What is to be gained by making the effort to fully engage in our children’s interests? A closer relationship and exposure to new things that we can learn to enjoy as well. tj



良好な人間関係を築くためには共有できるものが必要です。赤ん坊が産声をあげ、親が赤ん坊を抱いた瞬間から、関係の構築が始まります。生まれたばかりの赤ん坊はどんな姿も愛らしいので、良好な関係は難なく築けるでしょう。初めてのあくび、くしゃみ、そういっ たことでさえ共有できる経験となります。しかし、子供は成長するにつれ、大人にとってはつまらないことに興味を示すようになります。男の子が夢中で遊ぶおもちゃのトラックも、母親の目にはガラクタにしか映らないかもしれません。それでも母親は、幼い子供の喜ぶ姿を見たいがために、そばに いて、時には一緒に遊んだりもします。しかしいずれは、子供が“ママ”“パパ”と呼んで服の裾を引いても、子供の話に耳を傾けようとする気になれない時がやってきます。そうではあっても、子供と向き合う努力をすれば、良好な親子関係が築けるはずです。

反抗期の子供について年齢順に考えてみましょう。幼い時期には、ママとトラックの例の他にも、女の子がパパにお人形遊びをせがむような場合もあ ります。父親は、しばらくは相手をしたとしても、子供が満足するまでこの遊びに付き合うことに耐えられないかもしれません。

子供が家の外のことを話題にするようになると、子供にとっては面白いことでも、親はおざなりに聞いてあいまいな返事しかしないことも多くなります。 子供がそれに気付かないと思ったら大間違いです。自己主張の強い子供であれば、しばらくは親の注意を引こうと必死に話し続けるでしょうが、結局はあきらめます。消極的な子供ならすぐにあきらめてしまうでしょう。こう したやり取りからどんな感情が生まれるでしょうか。子供はがっかりし、自分が大切にされていないと感じ、最終的には怒りを覚えるのではないでしょ うか。こうしたことが子供の反攻的な態度を誘発することになりかねません。 学齢期になると、宿題について親子で話し合えることは子供にとって非常に心強いことです。親が宿題を肩代わりするという意味ではなく、子供がその宿題から得る情報の価値を見極め、子供のやる気を促すということです。 私は、子供が小学生の頃から、子供がどんな本を読んでいるかを把握するよう努めました。監視しなければと思ったわけではなく、子供と経験を共有したかったからです。そこから共通の話題が生まれ、価値観を共有する基盤を築くことができました。

ティーンエイジャーともなると、真剣に関わろうとする親をうっとうしく感 じることもあるでしょう。しかし、それが幼い頃からの習慣なら、抵抗なく受け止めやすいはずです。音楽は、親子の好みが大きく分かれがちな分野の1つですが、親は子供が夢中になっている音楽を聞いてみる努力くらいはすべきです。


子供が興味を持つことに積極的に関わる努力をすることで得られるものは? それは親密な関係と新たな楽しみの開拓です。親子の距離を縮め新しい趣味を発見し、成長することができるのです。tj


The complete article can be found in Issue #275 of the Tokyo Journal. Click here to order from Amazon.

Written By:

Lorraine Al-Jamie

A United States House of Representatives Congressional Recognition Award Recipient, Lorraine is a retired licensed Marriage Family Therapist that specializes in assisting parents acquire skills that enhance their ability to raise high-functioning and happy children. She, herself, is a mother of 5 and grandmother of 10 and has spent the last 30 years helping young parents, children and adolescents work through their varied and many challenges. Prior to specializing in parenting, Lorraine worked for two decades treating children and adolescents at an out-patient center affiliated with Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach, California. She has concentrated on teaching parents methods of interacting in ways that enhance the child's or adolescent's ability to make positive and effective choices. Parenting challenges often fluctuate between feeling helpless and somewhat ineffective, to heavy-handed and authoritarian. Being able to be an effective parent is a skill which needs to be learned and supported, and Lorraine has assisted parents by focusing on positive discipline approaches that assist in maintaining healthy relationships in the family while parents stay in charge of their children. Lorraine has helped parents deal with behavioral problems, impulse control problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity issues, compulsive behavior, dissociative disorders, trauma, relationship issues, depression, anxiety or fears, loss or grief and school problems.


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