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Communicating with our children

We cannot over emphasize the importance or priority of communication in our families. It makes or breaks them. It holds all the other areas of family life together. Without it parents and children can fail to connect even when they both desperately want to do so. Some people are more able to communicate than others. They seem to be naturally gifted as if they are ‘wired’ to engage. For them, sharing heart, both speaking and listening, seems to come easy. One thing is for sure. It does not matter how we see ourselves. We can certainly learn to communicate a whole lot better than we do, and it is a responsibility that we must embrace. If not, we run the risk of seperating from our children like the fork in a road and one day looking back with regret and wonder.

A correct attitude in communicating:

  • We have to perservere in this priority. When things like time restraints, personal inclina- tions and a lack of reciprocation make us want to give in, we simply cannot. We must stay patient and ‘keep sowing’.
  • We must have the resolve to push through the ‘awkward barrier’. When it seems like we have nothing in common with our children and we don’t know what to say, we can’t drop the responsibility. Even if the only thing we can communicate is to be honest about our lack of knowing how, that is better than nothing at all probably a good place to start.
  • We msut push through the phases that have the potential to create and establish distance. So often when this happens ground is lost that is never recovered. This can happen through things like miss-understanding, disappointment or age gap. Here are some examples of those things that can create gaps.- A boyfriend or girlfriend
    – Puberty. An area of privilege and responsibility that we must not avoid.
    – Seeing a pattern or trait that we don’t like
    – When our children seem to not need us any more and appear independent
  • We cannot hope to communicate with our children if we don’t exemplify it in the way we relate to our spouses. We must demonstrate the correct way to talk.
  • We must respect our children. We cannot expect them to respect others if we don’t respect them. If we don’t want to be shouted at by them we should not shout at them. Respect for them is not only a matter of speaking. It includes things like knocking on their doors before we enter theri rooms, not opening their mail and not interrupting when they speak.

Practical communication

  • There should be no ‘out of bounds’ areas when it comes to their being able to talk to us. even if we feel the subject is unimportant, uncomfortable or even wrong, we must let them speak. It might be difficult at the time but we appreciate it later. One area that we have to take the initiative in most times, and that we must, is in the area of puberty. For the most, our children will not find it easy to approach us with their questions and struggles. They will find it ‘easier’ to battle by themselves or learn from friends. I would rather my childen learn from us their parents. It does not have to be a scary domain but can be a fun and light-hearted point of discussion, one that they can learn to feel comfortable in sharing about. I am sure it is us as parents who bring the awkwardness into the subject. However you feel about it, find some courage and broach it.
  • We have to learn to listen. We must try to understand what they are saying and not be formulating our answer in our heads before they have even finished. We must try and take off the preconceptions that we have and acknowledgetheir individuality. They are neither like us their parents, or each other. When we listen we should make eye contact, drop what we are doing and give our full attention or arrange to do so. The time will come when such times will be some of our most treasured memories.
  • This is very hard to do but when it seems like it is ‘just not happening’ and our expec- tation for communication is not being met, give them space. It is very difficult at times for our children to respond to intimacy and explanation on demand.
  • Have family times. These can include things like praying together, reading the Bible, planning family happenings or an important event in one members life. It might also be an opportunity for discussion around a relevant topic.
  • Do things that make you laugh as a family. Not all communication is about having ‘D and M’s’.
  • Initiate communication that builds them up. Find areas to encourage and thenk them. When you need to, apologize to them.
  • Communication is more than words. When God wanted to communicate with mankind He did not shout from heaven. He sent His Son as a living word. Here are some possible areas of relating.- An activity of their choice – An interest that they have – A gift of flowers
    – An outing– Gestures. Be a gentleman to you girls and a fan to your boys
  • Physical touch is a strong way of communicating. God demonstated His love through Jewish and not the British culture. In the story of the prodigal son there is lavish affec- tion demonstrated. The Bible tells us to greet each other the holy kisses.For some of us as parents this area of communication has gone reasonably well and for others it is an ongoing nightmare. For all of us this is a long haul and one that we must not give up on.