More than small talk
How to start conversations with your kids…and keep them going
Parents are usually pretty good at talking, but usually this involves talking at our children rather than having conversations with them. One of the best things we can do to help secure our children’s futures and build meaningful relationships with them, however, is keeping communication lines open and functioning. Here are a few simple ways to make this happen.
• Don’t always focus on the big issues – drugs, sex, homework, peer pressure. Instead, lighten up a bit and talk with your kids about their favorite TV show or a band they like. Don’t try to act like you’re “in the loop” about these things, just be curious about their interests without being critical or saying things like, “Well, that’s definitely not my thing, but you’re the one who has to watch/listen to it.”
• Listen better! Even when it’s really difficult, do not give in to the temptation to interrupt, give unsolicited advice, say something judgmental or divide your attention between them and some other chore. Focus on them. Make eye contact. Smile when appropriate. Listen to them the way you would listen to a close friend whom you respect.
• Keep it brief. If every time you start talking, your kids think (based on past experiences) that you’re going to keep going and going and going…they’ll try to end the conversation as soon as possible. Respect their time and get to the point.
Always remember that kids are people, no matter how young, irresponsible or goofy they are. The golden rule applies to them, too.