Powerful Parenting Magic
“Reading aloud to your kid [s] is not only the single most important boost you can give to get him [them] ready to read and write, it’s also a magical way to strengthen the intrinsic bond the two of you share…” – Scholastic
I was recently interviewed about my 17-year-old book, Connection Parenting, copyright 2005. The closing podcast question was, “If you could tell parents one thing they could do to create a strong connection with their children, what would it be?” Given that I’d written a whole book about connecting with our children, my spontaneous answer surprised even me… “Read aloud to them every day from the day they are born until they leave the nest.”
We now know that the greatest emotional need of every child is to have a strong emotional bond of connection with at least one caring adult. The best way I know to create that vital bond of connection is to spend one-on-one special time with a child every day. The best way I “now” know to spend that special one-on-one connection time every day is by reading aloud to them. In fact, in that moment, when I spoke those words I suddenly realized that there is no way we can spend daily one-on-one reading time with a child and not create a strong emotional bond!
If you already do daily one-on-one “special time” with your children, whether it’s reading together, roughhousing, or playing special games, you are already making some magic. For families for whom daily one-on-one special time is new, this ritual will be a game changer. If you already read to your children every day, you have a big head start on creating the daily one-on-one special time that builds a strong bond.
We can magically transform regular reading times into “special” time when we do two things. The first is simply to rename it. Now we shall call reading time our “special” time. What makes it special? It is “one-on-one” time together. Ask any child and they will tell you, having a beloved adult all to themselves is the best. Why? Because the unspoken message in one-on-one time is you are special, you are important.
Unless you were the first born, once siblings are born, you never have one-on-one time with your parents again unless parents make it a priority and make plans to make it happen. To me, the beauty of making reading time into special time with each child is that you can start right now, yes, today. How you will do it will depend on how many children you have and their ages. Whether you have a brand new baby, a toddler, a preschooler, a school-age child, or one of each, each child gets their own personal special one-on-one reading time. It’s that simple. Notice I did not say that it is easy.
One of the biggest challenges most parents face when trying to make the time for doing special one-on-one time for each child is usually the lack of extended family resource. Parenting never used to be and was never intended to be a one or two-person job. Today’s norm of a nuclear family has never worked and never will work to meet the needs of the whole family. For those families with no involved biological extended family members living nearby, the best solution I have seen is creating “family of choice.”
Some of the best role models I have seen for creating family of choice are military families. When our biological family is too far away, either geographically or emotionally, we can seek out and enlist the help of neighbors, long-time family friends, and even coworkers who can become “like” family to us. Honorary grandparents, aunts and uncles can become lifelong family members who help us do the work it takes to meet everyone’s needs.
So…is your powerful parenting magic, that creates a strong emotional bond of connection, the reading aloud together daily or the spending that special one-on-one time together daily? Both are powerful magic and either one without the other will do good things for your children. However, it is the combination that is the magic formula. Reading aloud to children is a magic in its own right. Reading aloud in the context of one-on-one special time is a magic you will only fully understand if you read Connection Parenting. Therefore, my book recommendation for this article is to read or, even better, to let me read my book, Connection Parenting, aloud to you. The magic awaits.