Genuine communication takes place when you and your children share a two-way exchange of thoughts and feelings.
WHY IT MATTERS
Communication can become especially challenging with teenagers. Perhaps not long ago, “it was like you had a backstage pass to your children’s lives,” says the book Breaking the Code. “Now the best you can hope for is a seat out in the audience, and it probably won’t even be a very good seat.” Contrary to appearances, when this happens children need communication the most!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Adapt to your child’s timetable. Do so even if that means late-night conversations.
“You might feel like saying, ‘Now you want to talk? I was with you all day!’ But how can we complain if our children want to open up to us? Isn’t that what every parent hopes for?”—Lisa.
“I like my sleep, but some of the best conversations I’ve had with my teenagers have been after midnight.”—Herbert.
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Corinthians 10:24.
Fight distraction. One father admits: “I sometimes find myself mentally multitasking when my children are speaking. And I’m not fooling them—they can tell!”
If you can relate to that statement, turn off the TV and put down all devices. Focus on what your child is saying, and treat his or her concern as worthy of your full attention, no matter how trivial it may seem.
“We need to assure our children that their feelings are important to us. If they think otherwise, they will keep their concerns locked inside or turn elsewhere for help.”—Maranda.
“Don’t overreact, even if your child’s thinking is way off center.”—Anthony.
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Pay attention to how you listen.”—Luke 8:18.
Take advantage of informal settings. Sometimes children open up when they are not sitting face-to-face with a parent.
“We take advantage of car rides. Being side-by-side rather than across from each other has led to good discussions.”—Nicole.
Mealtime presents another opportunity for informal conversation.
“At dinnertime each of us relates the worst thing and the best thing that happened that day. This practice unites us and lets each of us know that we don’t have to face problems alone.”—Robin.
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Be quick to listen [and] slow to speak.”—James 1:19.