367: 3 Ways to Create Lasting Bonds with Your Kids // Mike Westover (Rachel’s Dad!)

A strong parent-child relationship is so important, but it can sometimes be hard to know how to build one. 

Well, today, it’s my honor to share an interview I did with my Dad, Mike Westover. He has had, without a doubt, the biggest impact on my life, my mothering journey, and how I am trying to build bonds with my kids.

My dad is and always has been a rock in my life, and I’ve been trying to get him to come on the podcast for many years, but he would insist, “What would an old man like me have to teach all of the mothers who listen to your show?” 

Well, a lot, as it turns out! I know you are going to love this conversation with him as he shares three simple, yet powerful things we can all do to forge a strong parent-child relationship. it’s an honor to get to share this piece of my heart with you on this week after Father’s Day.

 Here we go!


3 Ways to Build a Strong Parent-Child Relationship


1. Have fun with them. 

Even if you are really busy, you can prioritize a playful connection with your kids through simple traditions like bedtime games or silly nicknames – whatever fits you and your personality. We want our kids to associate us with warmth, connection, and fun. Now, I know this is definitely sometimes easier said than done if you are in a stressful season in your life or your career, but prioritizing simple play is so worth the effort. 



2. Respect their agency and decisions. 

As our kids get older, we have to trust them to make decisions for their lives. It’s our job to be a loving guide to them, not a controlling overseer. As my Dad said, “Our kids are not our property.” We can’t and shouldn’t take all the credit or all of the blame for how they “turn out.” I often tell moms in my Self-Assured Motherhood program that we can measure our success as parents by how we turn out, not how our children do, and these are words I hope to live by as my kids get older.


3. Love them. 

Show your children that they matter to you by acknowledging the highs and lows in their lives, and do it in a way that utilizes your gifts. This might look like planning fun family traditions for holidays or writing them a meaningful note on their birthday. If your kids know that you truly and genuinely care about what’s going on in their lives, they will feel bonded to you throughout their lives. 



My Dad is truly so special. I love his encouragement for dads to go from being “the very supportive and interested bystander” to an active and invested participant in their children’s emotional development. 



I want to end by reading an excerpt from an Instagram post from therapist Eli Harwood that my Dad referenced in the interview. 

Eli’s post is titled “5 Powerful Phrases I say to my children as a result of working as a therapist for the last 17 years.” #1 on that list is: “There is not a single thing in life that we can’t figure out together.” 

She goes on to say, “So many kids (and adults) will bury their struggles because they aren’t sure if their parents will feel burdened or overwhelmed by them. Our children need to confidently believe that we are dedicated to helping them through even the messiest and most complex things in life.” 

This is what my Dad and my Mom have done for me, and it has given me so much more resilience to get through the tough stuff in life, knowing my family will be by my side. This is what I hope to give to my children as well – now, while they are young, and also later, as they move into adulthood, parenthood, and beyond. 




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Listen to Top Motherhood Podcast, 3 in 30 Podcast with Rachel Nielson, featuring Mike Westover, about Building a Strong Parent-Child Relationship.
Infographic depicting How to Build a Strong Parent-Child Relationship
















What did you think of these takeaways from my Dad on Building a Strong Parent-Child Relationship? What are you doing to build life-long bonds with your kids? Share below! 





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