Love and support: The heartbeat of healthy families

Giving your child consistent love and support can be tricky.

Love and support. That sounds easy, right? But giving your child consistent love and support can be tricky. How often does your child feel supported when you come home from an exhausting day and he or she wants to talk, but you want a break? What about when you and your husband are having an issue but your child wants all of your attention? Young people know our body language. They listen to what we say or don’t say. They notice when our words don’t match our actions.

Supporting and loving our children refer to the many ways we affirm, love and accept them both verbally and nonverbally. When you say, “I love you” or give your child and hug the expression is obvious. But paying attention to them and taking interest in what they are doing is less obvious, but is still very much a way of giving support. The next time you come home and you’re tired, frustrated or mad, say so. Be honest with your children, tell them how you are feeling so they don’t read one message from your body and hear the opposite. Quality versus quantity really matters. A little bit of time spent one-on-one can go a long way with your child.

The Search Institute has great resources on building assets in your children and “Family Support” is one of the six support assets. The Search Institute says that three ways to be supportive of your child is:

  1. Have a weekly family fun night, together decide what to do.
  2. Spend one hour a week with each child alone. Take a walk, go out for dinner or just hang out.
  3. Find out one area where your child is struggling. Listen to your child’s concerns. Help your child think of ways to address the issue.

Michigan State University Educators will be offering Building Strong Adolescent classes across the state check out the Michigan State University Extension website for the nearest event to you.

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