I believe that communication is the big key to successful parenting. Good communication helps you build relationship and trust with your child, which leads to keeping their heart.
If you watch any family that has a close relationship, and the kids and parents are close, you will notice that they have a good communication system in their home. Communication is a direct KEY to the heart of our child, and involves more than just words.
- The ability to talk AND listen
- Caring and showing that you care
- Knowing your children’s interests, likes, and dislikes
- Laughing with your children
- Being there when needed
- Letting your child know you love and appreciate him or her (as they ARE!)
- Letting them know they are of value to you
- A pat on the back, a hug
Why DON’T we communicate?
For one thing, we are too busy.
There are always things to be done: laundry, housework, child care & training, school, dishes, and more laundry. It keeps us busy, and when we get a break, we are so tired that we don’t want to make the effort to communicate. It’s easier to put a DVD in, and plop the kids down so you can relax.
But the truth is, even if it’s not convenient, we HAVE to communicate with our children. We MUST make and take the time to talk and listen to them. That’s how we know their hearts. That’s how we win their hearts.
There’s nothing wrong with needing a little quiet time now and then, but make sure to be there when your kids want to talk, or they will quit trying.
If you are always busy, or impatient, or disinterested, they’ll go find someone who will listen. Communication is more important than the cleaning or laundry. Your children won’t necessarily remember a clean house, but he/she will remember if Mom or Dad were always just too busy for them.
If you haven’t been in the habit of communicating with your kids, you need to start with little steps, and make it happen. Offer to play a game with them, or do something with them that they would enjoy. While you’re together, ask questions about what they’ve been doing, about their friends, etc. Get them talking, while you listen and learn.
It’s surprising how much you can learn about your kids if you just pay attention to what they are saying. Sometimes their talk may seem silly or unimportant to you, but it’s important to them!
One of the BEST times to really talk to your kids is at bedtime. Bedtime can be hard because we are tired, and just want to hurry them off to bed so we can relax, or get some work done. However, I have found that many important conversations took place with my kids at bedtime.
I would encourage you to make a ritual of praying with them after they get in bed, and then giving them a few minutes to talk if they seem to need or want to.
I also found that after my little ones were in bed, often the teens would want to talk to me. I had to guard against getting frustrated about this. It was finally my time to have quiet, and just as I’d begin to work on my list for the next day, or catch up on my emails, one of my teens would come in the room. They would sit down and just start chatting about this, that, and the other thing.
I had to calmly remind myself, repeatedly, that it was a blessing that my teens wanted to come and talk to me. Many parents would do just about anything to get their teens to open up and share with them.
I also reminded myself that the time goes fast, and I needed to enjoy that time with them. Because of that, I can remember and smile about the many hours I spent with my teens at night, just listening, talking, and laughing together. Now that they’re young adults, and married or on their own, they still call and we talk.
Another good time to talk is when you take your kids somewhere one on one. I remember when my youngest daughter would go on an outing with me. She would talk and talk, then finally stop and ask, “Am I talking too much?!”
It still makes me smile to think about it. She is married now, and I miss those times. (Reminder here for you that still have young ones – you’ve heard it a thousand times, but it’s SO true – the day WILL come when you miss all the noise and talking, and you’ll wish you could turn back the clock!)
One final thought about communication: keep it positive!
Of course, there are many times when we have to correct and train our children. However, be very careful not to always be nagging, or making negative comments about what they have or haven’t done. (Avoid these 7 wrong responses that are communication killers.)
Frequent negative comments will shut down communication, and make them just want to avoid you.
Be purposeful about regularly giving your kids words of encouragement and praise.
They should hear things like:
- I’m so proud of how hard you worked on that! You really showed diligence.
- Your actions show you have grown in character.
- Good for you!!
- Keep up the good work!
- I can’t wait to tell Daddy what you did. He’s going to be SO pleased!
- When you obey so quickly and sweetly, it makes Jesus so happy.
- I’m so glad God gave you to us!
- Thank you for helping with ___________ today. I couldn’t do it all without you!
These are just a few ideas to help you get started on the path to positive communication with your children! Perhaps you have one of those difficult children, and it’s HARD to find something positive about their behavior. Ask God to show you something good, and even if it’s not a big thing, make it a big thing. It will make them want to try harder to please you.
Communication with parents and their kids isn’t real common these days. However, as Christian parents, we should make sure that it’s at the top of our priority list. What a testimony our family can have when we have good relationships with each other.
Last year on a Sunday night after church, my daughter and I ran into the store at the gas station. While we were in line waiting to pay, we were talking and laughing together. I didn’t realize it, but the cashier who was probably in her 30’s, had been watching us.
When we got up there to pay, she asked me, “Is that your daughter?” I said, “Yes, this is my daughter.” She replied, with some surprise, “Wow! It’s SO nice to see you two laughing and talking together. You don’t see that very often.”
It made me appreciate the fact that I had a good relationship with my daughter (and my other kids), and was able to enjoy being with them and talking to them. On the other hand, it made me sad to think how many parents are missing out on that.
Communication is so important, and we have to be willing to do our part to make it happen. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely! Make sure and take time to talk to and with your kids today!