Parents, Talk With Your Children
We all know that the best type of communication is not a monologue, but in the world of parenting it often is. We tell our children to clean up their toys, eat with their mouth closed and stop teasing their sibling. It is not wrong to talk to our children. They need to hear our instruction, correction (and encouragement!). The problem is that we talk so little with our children.
Here are four ways that can help us break this trend.
Make time to invest in the relationship. It will cost you, but there is no shortcut. It is a myth that children only need quality time and not quantity time. You simply don’t schedule quality moments, they happen. Quantity time says: “I want to be a part of your world”. Spending time together should not be seen as an unwelcome interruption of your busy schedule but as an expression of love.
Learn to listen to your child. I say learn, because most parents are poor listeners, myself included. Give your child enough time to tell his stories and ask his questions. Resist the urge to finish his sentences. Bear with his limited verbal processing skills. When he chooses an inopportune moment, tell him you will make time later. If you want your child to develop good listening skills, you must set the example.
Our goal is to understand our child, not just the other way around. If we can access what goes on inside our child’s heart we’re in a much better position to help him. We can make tailormade application of what the Bible teaches. Learn the art of asking good questions, the kind that will teach him to think and reflect (Prov. 20:5). Many adults don’t know how to put words to their thoughts and feelings because they were never taught as a child.
Ordinary days yield great opportunities for conversation, even when it is brief. Think of a trip to the grocery store or evening mealtime (together, as a family, no TV!). Don’t rush through the bedtime rituals. Some of the best talks with our kids happened at the end of the day, when I was about to say goodnight. You can figure out if it’s real or stalling!
Age-appropriate communicaton with your child is not for the faint-hearted. It is a long-term endeavor. Your child and you will not turn into experts overnight. Be realistic, but aim high. Pray high! Ask God for desire and determination to deepen your relationship with your child by simply talking with him or her.
It is true that God has placed us over our children (Eph. 6:1). But he also wants us besides them. By doing so we mirror the Gospel. Jesus Christ, the Supreme ruler over His creatures (Joh. 1:1) took the form of a servant and dwelt among us (Joh. 1:14).