Sharing Your Interests with Your Child
Sharing common interests is another way to have a positive impact on your child's life. Beware that it goes both ways: if you want your child to go fishing with you on Saturday, you'll have a lot more luck if you agree to go to where he wants the following weekend. Taking turns shows you respect your child's interests and genuinely want to be together.
How to Have Fun Together
You can use bonding activities as a starting place to have fun with your child. In addition, you can share some things you like to do. If you like to make jewelry, include a few beads in your son's favorite colors and buy enough findings for him to make one of whatever you're making. If you like sports, invite him to check standings or watch games with you. Don't tell him to forget it if he rolls his eyes. He might join you sometime, and it always feels good to be invited.
Next, offer your child a turn at picking an activity. Your child may want to do something that's completely unpleasant for you, such as going to see a band you can't stand, or play a videogame. Unless the activity is unsafe, and especially if you allow your child to do it without you there, join in once in awhile. Show an interest in it not because you really like it for yourself, but because you're interested in it as an extension of your child and the wonderful person he is. Ask questions like, “What's this for?” “What's the name of this character?” “What does this button do?” and let him take pride in being an expert.
Talking It Over
After an activity is over, talk about it in a nonthreatening way. If it was an activity you picked, explain what you like about it — it makes you feel peaceful, or you enjoy an intellectual challenge, etc. If it was an activity your child picked, observe without judging by remembering interesting things that happened and asking questions about how long your child has been interested in the activity or who else might be involved in it.
Speaking nonjudgmentally about a child's likes and dislikes builds trust between you. Children are much more likely to talk to you about a problem if they don't feel threatened and judged when they've shared their life with you. It doesn't mean you can't have an opinion or enforce consequences when necessary, it just means you're willing to accept them for who they are and take the behaviors one step at a time.