An interesting question came up today. “Why do you think you are able to communicate so well with your kids?”
First off, I know you have all been there. You’re sitting in the classroom at a Parent-Teacher-Conference and they start telling you the exact opposite of what you know about your child. They always seem to act differently when they are not in your presence and you get to be happy that you must be doing something right at home. This question made me think of these situations and I was grateful that by visiting with my child, another adult saw that I was good at communication.
I do believe that I am doing everything in my power to try and figure out who my kids are individually and I then try to align myself to whatever level I believe them to be on “in the moment”. I honestly believe this is key. This doesn’t mean that my hair wouldn’t be prematurely gray if I allowed it to show it’s real color and it doesn’t mean that I don’t silently scream inside more than 10 times a day but it does mean that I have learned that there are more sentences and comments that will make your kids turn off their listening ears and run for whatever blank space they run to when you can speak for 30 minutes and not get one word through than there are sentences and comments that will make them “want” to listen.
Emotions come at birth, they are not handed out at “age appropriate” intervals like a driver’s license. Have you ever tried to interrupt a giggling child who is rolling on the floor with laughter and calmly stated – “Ok, it’s time to stop laughing, we need to move on.” I’m willing to bet you aren’t going to have much luck. The same goes for a 16-year-old child who you have cornered in the living room because he just walked in your front door at 3 AM. Use your adult skills and think. First, they are nervous because they know they have done something wrong, then they are anxious as they try to sneak in unnoticed. Add the adrenaline rush to seeing your pissed off face standing in front of them. What kind of emotions do you expect at this time? Here is a fun task for you…. Look up “Emotional Overwhelm”.
“Emotional overwhelm, or a state of being overcome by intense emotions that is difficult to manage, can often affect a person’s ability to think and act rationally or perform in an efficient and functional manner.”
Everyone – regardless of their age or situation is allowed to feel. Sometimes, we can’t control how we feel every second of every day and we as adults can sometimes get caught up in the old thought process of, “Sit down and shut up.” Of course, children should not be allowed to disrespect their elders, but some adults really need a wake-up call regarding what is disrespectful and what is a cry for help. These kids live in a different world. It is dark and scary with evil at every corner disguised as pleasure. Be their safe place so you can have the opportunity to help them make better choices.
The 16-yer-old situation above is a good example of when you DO NOT want to communicate – and in my opinion, knowing when to communicate is one of the key success factors. Another, when you do find a better time to discuss bad behavior, keep the emotions flowing successfully. If anger starts to take hold on either side, – STOP – DROP & ROLL! Believe me, neither of you are going to forget the actual subject when it is safe to move back into the cause, effect and consequence conversation.
There is a song that I recently heard and it gives me goosebumps every time it comes on. The song was originally written by Paul Simon but a newer version, one that also speaks to the generation in question was remade by the Rock Group “Disturbed”. There is a verse that states:
“And in the naked light I saw ` Ten thousand people, maybe more ` People talking without speaking ` ` People hearing without listening ` People writing songs that voices never share ` And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence.
“Fools,” said I, “You do not know: ` Silence, like a cancer, grows. ` Hear my words that I might teach you. ` Take my arms that I might reach you.” ` But my words like silent raindrops fell ` And echoed in the wells of silence.”
I can listen to this song over and over and it rings out my deepest belief about my kids. Silence only teaches a typical child to stand as victim today and in the future when they will need their voice and in a child with an anxiety or depression issue, silence can nurture suicidal thoughts that are already too present. They need to be encouraged to speak their mind. Believe me, I have a variety of minds in my household. I’m not the biggest fan of each and every opinion, but when encouraging someone to speak – it doesn’t matter what they are saying and you as an adult have no right to tell them they are wrong. You do however, have the right to prove incorrect thought process wrong with knowledge, documented case studies, scientifically proven facts and relevant personal experience and consequence but believe me when I tell you that they will challenge everything and anything as today’s youth has a score of information at their fingertips. If you are not willing to learn in the process, they will not trust you with their information. Give them the ability to try and prove you wrong as well, it will just be another opportunity for them to learn the truth.
I have seen years go by while my words fall like silent raindrops but I have also witnessed the turnaround point – or the “ah-ha” moment when they have reached back for my outstretched arms with confidence and appreciation. And I am not just talking about when the kids grow up and become adults. This has happened over and over with all of my kids, young and old. We can never stop trying to reach them, I just try through positive energy 90% of the time. I guess them being terrified of my 10% works on my behalf as well – no-one is perfect.
Sponsored by: Children of Divorce Anonymous