Guest Blog: Creating Connections

Apr 1, 2024 | Articles, Just For Parents, Teen mental health

By guest blogger and parenting coach, Rachel Martins

These days there is a lot of talk about connection.

But this can be a sort of vague notion. What does it even mean and how do we do it?

I want to get really clear here about this idea of connection. I’m going to clarify the reasons connection is so important in our relationships with our kids, and then get into some concrete ways that you can implement connection in your relationships right now.  

Connection, Why Is It So Important? 

We are laying the groundwork for all future relationships  

Attachment behaviors are evolutionary behaviors that support survival. Our attachment behaviors are the system that guides us in our patterns and habits of forming and maintaining relationships. The attachment we get as young children affects the foundation of all of our future relationships all the way through adulthood.

When we are attentive to our children’s needs by prioritizing our connection with them, our children build a secure attachment that increases their ability to develop healthy relationships with others.

In other words, we all want our kids to grow up into adults who feel secure in their place in the world and with those who love them, because this then allows them to take this security into their future relationships. They will know in their bones what it feels like to truly be seen in a relationship, and by contrast, they will know when those things are not true in relationships and have the confidence to say, “This doesn’t feel right I’m out of here.”

Connection Improves Our Kids’ Safety

When we prioritize connection with our kids, we are helping them develop resilience, decision-making skills, and emotional intelligence, all of which increase their safety in the world. 

For example, when our children make a mistake and we get curious about what happened, why it happened, and what they would do differently next time, rather than shame or punish them, we help them develop self-compassion, decision-making skills, and the ability to be self-reflective. These are all skills that will allow them to be more confident as they move through the world. 

In addition, when we make connections with our kids one of the main priorities in our parenting, to hold space for them in their big feelings, their venting, their mistakes, and their hard times, we are communicating that no matter what they have going on, we are their safe space. This will then develop in them the habit and feeling of safety to come to us when they have a problem. 

Connection Supports Cooperation 

We all want our kids to listen, by which we really mean cooperate- put their laundry away, stop fighting with their siblings, do their homework, or make good decisions around drugs and alcohol.  However, our kids will only accept our guidance because of who we are to them, aka our relationship with them.  

When we approach our kids with connection and curiosity, our children see us as a person who seeks to understand who they are and what they are going through, rather than as an authority to be feared.  When we approach our kids’ problems and missteps with compassion and curiosity- by asking genuinely curious questions about why things happened and seeking to understand the underlying emotion or need of our child, and when we are the safe place for their big emotions, our children come to see us as “on their side”. This focus on compassion, listening, understanding, and support, naturally encourages our kids to want to cooperate aka: listen. 

Connection Creates More Joy in the Relationship and the Job of Parenting. 

Although this one is last, it is really huge! Parenting is a hard job, even when everything is going well! We are responsible for all of the things in our own lives- jobs, bills, keeping house, etc. AND we are responsible for the constant care of little people, who are often disagreeable or demanding, for a minimum of 18 years (and at 46, I still call my parents for support and guidance!). 

The more we seek to have the goal of our parenting be in connection, the more fun and joyful this marathon of a job will be.  If we seek to find times we can connect with our kids in ways that we enjoy. If we seek to listen and engage with our kids about things they are interested in. If we seek to learn their idiosyncrasies so that we can better understand and respond to their behavior. We are also working to create relationships with them that are more fun, love-filled, and joyful for us. 

Ok, so how do we do it? 

Now that we are clear on the importance of creating connections, let’s get down to the business of how we do it. I’m going to walk you through several ways that you can integrate connection into your day-to-day life. 

Emotional Regulation

This is one of the foundational pieces to being able to prioritize connection in our parenting. Let me explain why:

One of the most important aspects of how we connect to our kids is how we are able to help them understand, process, and feel safe in their big feelings.  In order for our kids to feel safe in their connection with us, as well as safe in their own big feelings, they need to know deeply that their big feelings don’t scare and overwhelm us.  This makes it imperative that we can manage our stress response, or emotionally regulate ourselves, in the face of our kids’ big feelings. 

The problem is that many of us adults don’t know how to regulate our own emotions, which leads to us meeting our kids’ big emotions with our own big emotions. 

Here are some ways you can begin to regulate your nervous system in order to provide the critical co-regulation your kids need: 

  • Connect with other adults. Call a friend or spend a little time with your partner.
  • Movement. Have you ever noticed how much a short walk in the fresh air can shift your mood? Anything from yoga to a hike to a simple walk will work, and it doesn’t have to be long! 
  • Time in nature. This can be as simple as putting your bare feet in the grass for 5 or 10 minutes while you walk around your backyard, or a hike in the woods. Studies have shown that time in nature provides a statistically significant reduction of worry and stress and an increase in joy.
  • Journaling. This is really just a brain dump. Allow yourself to write anything and everything that is in your head, without judgment or editing. 

Prioritize Connection Over Correction. 

When our kids mess up, our most important job is to seek connection with them so we can be their safe place when they make a mistake or misstep, rather than their bully in those moments. 

When your children make a mistake or fail at something, can you show up with connection? Can you hold space for their reflections? Can you seek to understand before you judge? 

It is in these moments that we teach our children self-compassion and reflection, and we build our trust bank with them.


One of the tragedies of parenthood, motherhood in particular, is this notion that in order to be a “good mom” we have to be selfless- literally without self. This is in almost all of the messaging in the media and in society at large: in order to be a good mom, we must abandon ourselves, our needs, our desires, and all that makes us, us. 

The real kicker here is that it doesn’t work. When we leave ourselves off of our priority list, what actually happens is that we are less able to show up for our kids as the parents we want to be. We are burnt out, our cup is empty. And you know what? Our kids see it. We think we are doing “it right”, but in reality, we are being counterproductive to our goal of being a good parent, because we are not showing up as the well-cared-for, nourished, fulfilled person our kids really need. We are short, irritated, resentful, exhausted. 

To that end, one way we can create a connection with our kids is to engage in self-care. Bonus- this models self-care to our kids so we can create a generation of people for whom caring for yourself is the norm. Let’s look at a few ways you can do this!

  • Get in the habit of asking yourself a few times a day- but especially when you feel bad (overwhelmed, ragey, tired, out of patience, etc.) what do I need now? And if possible give it to yourself.
  • Reconnect with who you are and what brings you joy or lights you up.   The first step to reconnecting with yourself is to sit in a quiet place, either with just your brain or your journal too, and ask yourself: What do I like to do? What makes me feel lit up? Once you have the answers to these questions, put them on the calendar. You have to literally put yourself on your schedule!

Through a solid understanding of why connection is important, and tools and strategies to implement it in our homes, we can improve our relationship with our kids and begin to change the world, one child at a time.


Like what you read? Spend time exploring connections with Rachel on April 9 from 7-8:30 pm EST on Zoom. And did we mention this awesome event is free? Find more information and registration here.


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