My 6-year-old son and I are incredibly close. From the moment I held him I felt an unexplainable connection that still, six years later, I can't adequately explain. My son is sensitive, compassionate, and an intense listener who remembers arguably way too much for his age. And while our relationship feels organic, I know there are things that strengthened our mother-son bond and helped make it what it is today. And as he grows and our relationship continues to evolve, I know the foundation I have laid will only help us moving forward.
Admittedly, my son and I are a lot a like. We're both sensitive, quiet, easily entertained, and rely on carefully crafted routines in order to feel at ease. My partner and my daughter, however, are outgoing, restless, and are fine with chaos and going with the flow. The balance we all enjoy within our family is great, to be sure, but it also reveals how strong my bond is with my son, and why we often gravitate toward one another.
As a parent I feel like my "normal" is constantly changing, so I know it's my job to figure out how to keep up with my children as they grow, evolve, and need and want different things. And as I grow with them, I'm able to do a lot of little things, like the following, to make sure our relationships remain strong, solid, and a source of encouragement for everyone involved.
I Make Time For Him
While I don't always have a lot of it, I know time is the one thing I can give my kids that can change how they perceive themselves and their self-worth. Of course, work, life, and other responsibilities often get in the way — and some days I can barely have a few seconds to myself left alone a solid hour to devote to someone else — but I know that when I make that time, it matters.
Whether it's a few minutes at bedtime, or hours playing Legos on the floor, spending time with my son shows him that no matter what life throws at us, he matters.
I Get On His Level
I've always been the kind of mom who talks to her kids in a way that makes them feel like they're part of the conversation. I don't talk down to them in a baby voice, or in a scary voice that shows them "who's the boss." Instead, I talk to my children with the same tone and respect that I would use when talking to an adult.
Not only does this make my children feel trusted, but they know that I respect them as much as I want them to respect me. It also helps them learn how to hold conversations with others and grow into their own people. My son, in particular, can hold conversations about topics that might otherwise be "over his head" because I simply treat him the way I'd want to be treated.
I Communicate Often
I make a point of talking about my feelings with my son and in front of him whenever possible. I also ask him to use his words to label how he's feeling, so that he can learn how to express himself in a healthy, productive way.
It may not seem like a big deal, but this small gesture helps him recognize and sort his emotions so he can learn to control them. It also lets my son know that I'm listening, that I care about how he's feeling, and that there isn't a single thing he cannot tell me about... especially when it comes to how he's experiencing the world around him.
I Encourage His Own Independence
I'm a self-proclaimed recovering helicopter parent, so this whole "helping my kid gain their own independence" thing is tough. And while my daughter has always been vying for her freedom, my son would rather stay close to me and follow my lead.
I'm a work-in-progress, and it's hard to let my little one go, but I think our relationship has improved since I've forced myself to give him the space he needs to realize his own thoughts, talents, interests, and sense of self.
I Teach By Example
I don't believe that you can simply demand respect, or get away with the whole "do as I say, not as I do" parenting method. So when it comes to raising my son, I want to show him how he should treat others by setting the example myself. This also gives me a chance to remain close to my son, and establish myself as a source of learned knowledge that he can rely on in the future.
I Take An Interest In His Interests
When I found out I was having a son, I must admit that I felt... ill-equipped. I just had no idea how to raise a son, especially after being a mom to a daughter for five years, and I was afraid that I wouldn't like the things he would inevitably like.
Yeah, I worried for no real reason. I love seeing my son happy, and whatever makes him happy is something I am very much interested in. When he shows real interest in a topic or hobby, it's easy for me to do the same. And, as a result, we're able to bond over our shared interests and as we both learn about new things.