Originally posted February 9th, 2016 on Generation Viewpoint
Communicating with your Children
As all parents know, communicating with your children can be somewhat of a Rubik's cube that there's no mathematic formula to solve. Sadly after finding out that they can't simply peel off the stickers to fix it, many parents abandon the riddle and wish for a better relationship.
Talking with your children doesn't need to be that difficult. It's not as easy as , "I'm your parent so listen to me" but it is still basically simple. It helps that all children want to to be communicated with and have a desire to be heard. This isn't a generational thing. This is a human need.
Now I'm no expert with formal training but I am a father of 4 and have somehow survived. If you have listened to our podcast with Evan and I you can hear that even with disagreements we still love to talk with each other. So how do you do that? Here are 5 simple keys in fostering a great relationship with your children.
5 Keys to great communication:
1. Respect. I agree that children should be taught to respect their parents, elders and basically everyone around them. I also believe that as a parent if we don't show our child the respect as a human being that they deserve they'll go elsewhere for it.
2. Safety. By safety I don't mean physically (although that's mandatory). I mean more that they know that no matter what is going on in their lives that it's safe to talk to you. You're not going to talk about them to others or condemn them for feeling the way they do. They need to know that they are safe in our care.
3. Understanding. How many times have we been in a discussion regarding how someone feels and the majority of the time is spent on trying to convince them they shouldn't feel that way. While this is true sometimes it also glazes over the fact that a persons feelings are real. How your child feels is real to them regardless if it makes sense to us as parents. While we do need to assist them in maturing and understanding these emotions we also need to acknowledge the present reality and give comfort. If we don't they'll feel like we don't understand.
4. Humility. This isn't for the child. It's for us as adults. If we don't have humility and the willingness to apologize for our mistakes and acknowledge our short comings we for one set "perfect bar" way to high. We also distance ourselves from the ones we love the most by making ourselves unapproachable.
5. Unconditional love. This goes with out saying but is the most important of all. Being obvious is our love for our children in priceless. Loving unconditionally makes an impact of a lifetime. I know you want to push your child to excel and there's nothing wrong with that. But when we use our love and communication as the reward or penalty for their successes and failures we put a wall up that blocks healthy communication.
In the book "True Love Dates" by Debra Fileta, MA, LPC she says, "Our Desire for love and acceptance is either satisfied or parched by our family atmosphere."
The question for us as parents is, are we satisfying or parching our children's need for love with how we choose to communicate?