Habit #2 – Adult Relationships

December 17, 2014

Wise Families Have Strong Relationships

Healthy families work to have a strong relationship between the adult caregivers.   I am well aware that families come in all shapes and sizes!  My own family includes a step-son, two biological sons and an adopted daughter, two ex-spouses and a host of grandparents!  Not all families have a two parent household…there are single-parent families, families formed through adoption, foster families, kinship families, multi-generational families…and the list goes on.  But no matter what your family looks like, the way the child caregivers interact on a daily basis sets the relationship standard for your children to follow.

When your communications and connections with other adults are successful, this success flows over into the rest of your family relationships.  WISE adults work to make sure their home isn’t just a project where they raise kids.  WISE families know that it takes a real effort to stay in positive relationships.  Often in my work with families, I share one of my strongest (and most controversial) beliefs –


I believe that you should love yourself, more than you love your kids.


I know how this sounds – your GUILT about taking care of yourself and your adult relationships can propel any self-care plans right out the window.  But, like they say on airplanes, you cannot assist your child with their oxygen mask until yours is securely in place.

Your children are not in your lives to be your friends – they will always be your children and, hopefully, you will one day enjoy an adult friendship with then.  In the meantime, a sharp, unmistakable divide between the adult caregivers and their children must be maintained.  They should make friends among their own peers, not with you.   The roles of parents and care giving adults are clear and separate from the roles of children.   We bear the responsibility for raising children to be responsible adults.  Set limits, communicate appropriate expectations for them, and love them unconditionally (Ok, I know this last one is especially hard when they are screaming, “I hate you!  You are the worst parent ever” but hang in there).

Keep the communication lines between you as adult caregivers open and clear – even if you are divorced co-parents who aren’t thrilled to be in the same country together!  The decisions you make and the communications that you have are for the purposes of raising healthy, wise adults – keep the end game in perspective!   Talk with each other about issues in the family, make some decisions, and then talk with the rest of the family about them.  Your kids need to see you as a solid team.  When you do have the need to talk with the kids about something that affects the family, be sure to talk to them together.  Let them makes some decisions, as appropriate but, if it is non-negotiable, say so.  This shows the kids you are a solid front and will lessen the chance of them trying to play one of you against the other.

Take some time to think about how you show love to yourself, how you communicate with other adults that care for your kids, and how you connect, through word and deed, with all of the members of your tribe.  And if you are having trouble with all of this, reach out – to friends, to mentors, to other parents, or to us at The Wise Family.  We are all on this crazy parenting journey together – with the potholes, detours and, occasionally, some scenic overlooks, too!

Enjoy the view!  Do you have a comment to share with us?  Want to give us more insight into the stuff you see on your parenting journey?  Send us a comment below – we read and respond to everything you share!  And we LOVE a good (or ugly) family story!


Until next week, Be Wise!