Building Bridges: How to Span the Gap Between Parents and Children

mountain bridge

Building Bridges:  How to Span the Gap Between Parents and Children 

by Marta Adelsman

Wandering around an ice hockey equipment store with my son, Ethan, while not my favorite thing to do, made his heart sing.  At 11 years old, Ethan played goalie on a parks district ice hockey team and delighted in all things hockey.  While not my first choice of activities to do with my son, I knew how much this outing meant to him.

I had developed the once-a-week routine of having a “date” with each son.  We would spend 30 to 60 minutes doing something that he chose.  I wanted to develop a strong, healthy bond with these guys because I knew, when children feel isolated and disconnected from the most important adults in their lives, they often act out.

Through busyness, judgmental attitudes, and attempts to force children into behaviors and roles, parents unintentionally erect walls in the relationship.  When they perceive a wall, children will not reveal their true feelings, doubts, frustrations, etc.  Keeping these inside builds up pressure they don’t know how to handle.

Your job as a parent is to guide your child, not to force him.  Forcing builds walls.  Guiding builds bridges. When you have a relationship in which there exists a strong communication connection, your child will not as likely act out with harmful behaviors.

Certain parental attitudes and activities, built into your relationship with your child, can insure they feel connected to you and more open to your guidance.  It works best to implement these when children are young, although it’s never too late.

1) Stay non-judgmental.  Coming down hard on behaviors of which you disapprove sets up barriers. Instead of making the child wrong, be genuinely curious about her point of view.  Avoid judging her for her personal tastes.  Find out what she likes about the lyrics to a song you find distasteful.  Get into her shoes and understand how come she resists going to school.  She will feel heard, and that builds bridges.  Accept her for who she is in her Being – bright Essence that exists beyond her personality and behaviors and beyond your ideas of right and wrong.

2) Stay present.  When your child speaks to you, focus your attention away from what you are doing and look at him. You can also plan that weekly date, even if it’s only 15 minutes.  It’s not the amount of time you spend but the fact that you focus regularly on your child – doing what he wants to do – that builds the connection.  If you think you don’t have the time, don’t believe that thought.

It’s up to you to make sure your child trusts the bridge of connection.  A non-judgmental posture and being present make it easy for him to walk across it.

Dr. Marta practices as a Life Coach in Communication & Spiritual Consciousness.  She coaches individuals, couples and parents to be more awake and aware.  Her book, Why Wallow When You Can Soar? is available on Amazon. To contact her for comments or an appointment, call  928-451-9482 or email

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