Recovery from addiction is about building strong and healthy connections to significant parts of our lives. As parents, we might struggle to connect with our kids, especially when struggling with mental health issues, behavioral problems, or addiction. Many of these issues can be challenging to discuss, and we might not understand our kids’ point of view. By finding a common interest with our kids, we can build bridges and bonds with them by sharing our passions and hobbies.
Why Might Parents Be Reluctant to Engage in Their Kids’ Interests?
When we grew up, we may have noticed a generational gap between ourselves and our parents. While our parents believed that our popular culture icons were meritless, we may have felt that their idols were old-fashioned or out-dated. Each generation wants to be the greatest. While we usually do not like to acknowledge this, we might be acting just like our parents by not embracing the current popular culture trends appealing to our kids.
Remember that our kids are interested in popular television shows (or streaming shows, as television becomes more obsolete), music, video games, or other trends for similar reasons that we adored our generation’s popular culture icons. Think back, not on the specific things you liked at your kid’s age, but consider why you liked them. Through reflecting on your own experiences, you can start to relate to your kids on a deeper level.
Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center’s Aaron Huey and Phil Stone discuss using music to connect with your kids on the “Beyond Risk and Back Podcast.” We can share interests with our children–they might even like some of the music we grew up listening to, and we might enjoy their favorites! By asking our kids questions, we can get to the crux of why they enjoy certain things. We can ask things like:
- What do you like about this song?
- How does this song make you feel?
- What do the lyrics mean?
- Do you look up to this artist? Why?
Remember that we can use these interests to build connection and rapport. These cultural icons and interests can be a great way to initiate more in-depth conversations on more complicated topics, such as depression, addiction, anxiety, anger, and other behavioral concerns.
Other Ways to Build Connections
We can also build connections with our kids through shared hobbies and activities. Setting a positive example for our kids can be tremendously beneficial to their overall health and well-being. When we engage in healthy and fun activities with our kids, we can show them that we care about them, enjoy and appreciate them, and their future matters. Some practical activities include:
- Family dinners and shared meals
- Family adventures such as hiking, cycling, road trips, camping, or other fun outings
- Exercising together at fitness classes or working out together at home
- Playing sports–never underestimate the value of a game of “catch!”
- Game nights with board games, charades, or puzzles
- Bowling nights, mini-golf, or other games
- Create a routine for these activities, such as a monthly adventure or a weekly game night
Activities like these can include the entire family or “one-on-one” time with each of your kids. You may need to balance out the time that you spend with each of your children. When we have one child struggling with addiction, problematic behaviors, or mental health issues, we might put the majority of our attention and focus on that child. All of our children need our attention and guidance, and we can be mindful of this even as we help the child currently in a crisis.
Being Open-Minded and Building Pathways to Conversation
By remaining open-minded to our child’s interests, we can build pathways to healthy and fruitful conversations. The specifics matter less than we might think. We might not understand why our child enjoys things like social media or video games; however, our lack of understanding is irrelevant, as our child can teach us about their interests. While we might fear encouraging destructive behaviors like internet or gaming addictions by showing an interest in these activities, we can better understand our kids by meeting them where they are currently.
Meeting Our Kids “Where They Are”
When our kids have interests that we do not understand, we can still capitalize on these interests to build bonds and connections. Our relationship with our kids will help them build resiliency, feel safe, secure, and accepted. Meet your kids “where they are” without judgment or preconception. You can build rapport by showing an interest in the things that matter most to them.
Building a strong connection with our kids through shared interests can help our kids feel valued, safe, and secure. When we have a good relationship established with our kids, they can learn how to ask for help from us when needed. By learning to ask others for support and having dependable relationships, our kids can develop the coping skills necessary to be successful in their recovery. We might not understand our kids’ passions or hobbies, but we can learn what they value with their interests. We can use these interests to build rapport and strong bonds with our kids. If your child struggles with addiction, problematic behaviors, or other mental health concerns, you might be unsure how to help or how to connect with them. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Colorado is here when you need us. We are committed to helping both teens and parents build healthy relationships and recover from their struggles. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.