When making a connection there has to be a giver and a receiver.
In the parent-child relationship, we as parents are usually looking to be the receivers. We ask the questions, "what are you doing?" We want the information, "who are you with?" We search for answers "how was your day?" We are the receivers of information, it's what we do.
But as I've grown as a parent, when connecting with my children, I try to be a giver as well. Instead of just asking the questions, I share information. I ask who they are with, and share who I used to hang out with and what we used to do. I don't just ask where they are going but I tell them about where my friends and I used to hang out and what we would do. I ask how they are feeling and share stories of times when I was afraid or nervous or happy or brave.
I open up to my kids about me - what my past was like and what I learned. What I'm dealing with in the present and share my stories and successes. And we talk about the future, and my hopes and dreams.
I show them pictures of my life before them and answer their questions, like "who is that person, why in the world would you wear that and how did you get your hair to be that big" (I was a product of the 80s). I've taken my kids to my old neighborhood. I've shown them where I used to jump off roofs and where I got my scars. I showed them where I learned to ride a bike and where I smoked my first joint. I showed them my old schools and the exact spot where I got beat up by a bully (something I'll never forget).
I let them in. I find that by letting them in, letting them be the receivers, they are more open to telling me more about them, and they become givers. This helps to foster a stronger connection, opening the lines of communication and building a better relationship.
Thanks, mom and dad for keeping the lines of communication always open.