Concerned parents. They’re everywhere. Are you among them?
When talking with them, I’ve found myself saying, “Just keep the conversation alive.” When we listen and talk we can be influential. When we do both, they will, too. Eventually. We can’t give up.
I wrote “listen and talk” in that order intentionally. Our choice to listen – really listen – is key. It’s always a choice. If we don’t listen purposefully, they won’t listen to us. Why should they? You might think they should just because they’re our kids. Sure, in the ideal universe. But, maybe more than ever before, we need to earn the right to be heard. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad.
What if you wrote a mission statement for your family’s communication? I’m not kidding. What’s the mission of your communication? Why do you do it?
What we communicate and how we do it are primary ways we pass on our beliefs and values. Thinking about it more is wise. Of course, our sharing invites our kids to share with us so we can learn what’s on their minds.
Healthy communication is critically important to our family dynamic. But, there’s more. Our being available and interested communicates much to our kids. Oh, yes! We meet their needs:
- When we listen, our kids will be more secure.
- When we talk to share our lives with them and to respond to what they’ve shared with us, we affect their identity.
- When we’re available to them even if we have to stop doing something we want to do, we strengthen belonging.
- Asking and answering questions helps them identify their purpose.
- Because they’ll be secure with us, they’ll believe us when we tell them they’re competent.
Decide your communication mission and discuss it with your children. Share your heart. If they’re old enough, involve them in the writing of the mission. Why do you value communication in your family?
You might want to use one or more verbs, nouns, reasons, and how you’ll do it. For example:
- Share truth with respect and for the good of others so we’re informed and transformed.
- Speak respectfully and listen intently to learn from and enjoy each other to keep our relationships healthy.
- Demonstrate love and interest by asking questions of each other, answering questions honestly, and listening respectfully so hope and truth are our foundation.
The exercise of choosing the words for your mission will serve you well. Try it. If you’re willing, I’d love you to post your statement in the comments. Your vulnerability will help others. (That word could be in your mission statement and so could so many others.)