RELATE. Being close to your child gives them freedom to open up. Parents share their bonding tricks with EDGAR R. BATTE.
Christine Mawadri equates the significance of connection with a child to breathing. She believes as a parent, a child depends on you to nourish them in every way.
“Connection is safety, and security- both emotional and otherwise. It’s like instinct,” adds the radio presenter and single mother.
For fashion designer, Elizabeth Mbabazi, involving her children in the home’s plans like the weekly meals so that they assist in some of the chores, has built a bond.
“We go grocery shopping and agree (sometimes, I coerce them) on what we can realistically afford to buy and what should wait. I have three children so they take turns in simple basic household chores like cleaning the table, tidying up and sweeping the compound. It is never that easy but since I’m hands-on, they fall in eventually too,” Mbabazi adds.
Marrying role and career
Her work revolves around fashion design and art so she often invites her children to some of the events where they get to connect with her, even as she works. She adds, “I guess marrying my work and parenting allows them to see me more and also realise some of the realities of life and this has allowed us to talk more and also disagree when necessary.”
It is a process
Counsellor and paediatrician Sabrina Kitaka, says parenting is a blessing but takes patience and learning minute by minute, day by day, year in year out. “As parents, we are the first teachers of our children and their life skills role models. So, we must endeavour to lead and live by example,” she explains.
Kitaka is emphatic that in leading exemplary lives for our children, it is important in shaping them since they grow to be part of a bigger community.
Get them to open up
And as parents become role models, counsellor Ignatius Mulyowa, of Cheerful Life Counsellors, advises parents to also get their children to open up to them so that there is mutual trust.
“There are a number of things that a parent can do to connect with their children. When you leave work, spare time to do homework and take conversations beyond simply fulfilling the academic requirements. Introduce games at home. Board games require teamwork and connect minds so parents can exploit such avenues to win trust by teaching and guiding both on the academic front and also investing in leisure,” Mulyowa advises.
“It is important that when you are trying to win trust of children, you keep promises. If you promise to buy sweets for them, please come through with that promise,” Sophia Gombya, an independent counsellor, adds, emphasising the need for growth of friendship between a parent and child.
Mbabazi observes that getting children to open up is a gradual process. She adds, “I pick them up from school every day and we use the time in the traffic to talk about anything and everything about their day and mine. One of them is reserved so I ask him more direct questions that get him to open up, for example what funny thing happened during the day? Or did he enjoy his lunch? It takes time, patience and having some basic routine structure and of course rules.”
Mawadri says when she gets back from work, regardless of time, she spends at least three to four hours with her child. They do activities together as they chat and talk about everything from politics to whatever interests him that day.
“He always likes to know how my day has been, and its highlights. We argue even a bit about different things. I miss him when it is school time. The nest feels empty. Our activities include cooking, watching movies, moving stuff around the house, shopping, eating out and attending concerts, “she explains. “I also leave him with some home related responsibilities all the time.” This helps to gauge how well he can take them and correct or help where possible.”
Sam Nikoma, managing director Allied Media Services, says he makes it priority during holidays to ensure that breakfast is ready early enough and they have it together as a family.
“We always have morning prayers together and each child has his day to ensure this routine is done,” he adds.
Counsellor Ignatius Mulyowa, of Cheerful Life Counsellors, says just like adults, children need to feel safe with their parents and therefore implores parents to always take time to study their children’s habits as a precursor.