Ways to bond with your kids

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Like Mother, Like Daughter (Chicken Soup for the Soul, September 30, 2008, $14.95) and Moms & Sons (Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, September 2008, $14.95)

From borrowed outfits to goofy mannerisms, there is a time when most girls must sheepishly admit, "I'm turning into my mother." And for a mother of boys it seems there is never a shortage of silly antics and good-natured teasing between mother and son.

But while our uncanny connections can draw us closer, sometimes these similarities can drive us up the wall. For those of us thinking about sending an S.O.S signal in hopes of reviving our relationships with our kids this summer, help is on the way.

These excerpts were taken from the new "best of" series from the bestselling brand, Chicken Soup for the Soul, which has inspired millions of readers to celebrate their relationships for the past 15 years.

Ways to bond with your son without becoming one of the guys

Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: Moms & Sons

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark

How can a mom spend time with her son that doesn't involve videogames or action movies? If multiple Terminator viewing sessions aren't your idea of fun, what's a mother to do? If you think becoming one of the boys is the only way to bond with your son, consider these mother/son bonding tips. Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: Moms & Sons, these ideas prove you don't have to be a football or HALO-fanatic to get your boy's attention.

1. Have weekly dinners. Whether you hash out the day's events or share a humorous story, family dinners can be a place to connect at the end of the day. It may seem impossible to squeeze a sit-down dinner in between soccer practice and Boy Scouts, but if you make the effort you won't be disappointed.

Nobody knows more about the value of dinner time than Lynn Fredrick. As a single mother, coming home to cook dinner each night after work almost pushed her over the edge but thankfully, her sons decided to help. As she explains in her story "Kitchen Comforts," she and her boys "started to laugh a lot at dinnertime. My elder son even began to rely on that time of day to share his worries and fears." Designate a few nights each week to have dinner together, and you'll find yourself looking forward to these special nights with your son.

2. Try something new together. Finding a common interest doesn't have to be difficult. What teenage boy doesn't like to eat? And of course, most boys would jump at the chance to take a karate or kickboxing. So why not take a cooking or martial arts class together? Sharing an activity will help reinvigorate your relationship and provide a wealth of new experiences.

When Tanya Breed agreed to take her son Chris on his first fishing trip, she was filled with dread. In "First Day Fishing," Breed remembers cringing as she baited her first hook with a live worm, vowing she would never fish again. But once they returned home, Breed was surprised by Chris' animation when he told his father about their trip. She realized that his experience was different from her own, and he had a blast. "I had been too engrossed putting the worms on the hook to appreciate the beauty, but Chris had taken it all in." She decided she would make the fishing trip again, this time with a different attitude.

The ties that bind: Ways to bond with your daughter

Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: Like Mother, Like Daughter

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Amy Newmark

You've witnessed her first steps and shared her joy over winning the championship game. As life's moments turn into lasting memories, how can mothers continue to strengthen their relationships with their daughters? Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: Like Mother, Like Daughter, here are some ideas to get the most out of your mother/daughter relationship:

1. Cheer them to success. Mothers are often required to play the role of cheerleader, and it is comforting to know that moms are kids' biggest fans. For Caurie Ann Miner, her mother's wisdom shined best in her daily notes she left on napkins in Caurie's lunchbox. As she shares her joy over finding a loving and encouraging napkin note on her first day of kindergarten, Caurie recalls how these notes sustained her throughout her life in her story, "Lessons on Napkins." Help your children build positive self-esteem and encourage them by leaving an inspirational note on their door before a test, or by making a sign to cheer them on at a basketball game. These little messages and mementos may mean the world to them, just as they did to Caurie.

2. Make a video diary. Where are you storing years of school, soccer and dance recital pictures? Are they still serving as a dust magnet in the attic? Break them out and create a video diary for your daughter. Surprise your child for her birthday or special occasion with a DVD that contains special pictures, music and videos that tell the story of her life from birth to the present. Most computers come with software to make videos or a presentation creation program. Don't know how to use these programs? Ask a friend for help or enroll in a community computer class. Learning something new will be rewarding and you and your daughter will love creating this special memory.

3. Take a cooking class together. Whether your daughter is a seasoned chef or a kitchen misfit, she'll enjoy the opportunity to learn a new dish and spend time with you. Most local grocery stores, community centers or university continuing education programs offer fun-themed cooking classes. You could even have one in your own home! As you help your daughter hone her cooking skills, discuss memories of the favorite meals you shared together or funny stories of cooking disasters.

For Annmarie Tait, her mother's love of coleslaw caused her much angst as she recalls in her story, "Queen of Coleslaw." Since it was tradition to have homemade treats at school to celebrate a birthday, Annmarie feared her mother would show up with an industrial-sized tub of coleslaw on her special day. Of course, she brought cupcakes instead, but looking back, she thinks one of her best memories is watching her mother make her coleslaw. To help you make your own cooking memories with your daughter, present her with a personalized cook book at the end of the class that contains all of the recipes she loves.