All relationships have their ups and downs including parenting. You try talking to your kids, but somehow what you’re saying just doesn’t get through. As they get older, there seems to be more of a language barrier between the two of you. Add that to the already existing age impediment, and you find yourself struggling to have a simple conversation. If you’re really upset at the end of most conversations with your child or you feel that you don’t ever get to share your feelings, it might help to speak to someone. One important perspective to hold onto for all parents especially that of teens is to remember that kids are always growing (metamorphosis). Children during growth phase need a lot of patient in dealing with them. The imbalance between emotional immaturity and reasoning can make your teen respond in extreme ways that leave you hurt and angry as a parent. They either become rebellious and rude or cold and withdrawn. Parents need to adapt their communication to stay connected. Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship. Parents have to affirm and support the needs of their children if they are going to break away from patterns of communication that don’t work. Communication is not a one-way thing, we can communicate in different forms and language depending on the kid in question.
For example, let’s check out this dialogues:
Parent: Hey! Come here! How did you get that bruise on your arm?”
Child: It was at school. During break time.
Parent “What happened?”
Child : I was with my friends.
Parent: Yes, but what happened? Did you get hurt playing?
Parent: Did any of your friends try to hurt you on purpose?
Child: No. We were playing. It’s just a little scratch.
Parent: I thought you said you didn’t get hurt playing?
Child: Mum, that’s not what I meant. you can’t understand. Just let it be, please!!
Parent: (with raised voice) “Did you just tell me to let it be? or you’re conclusively telling me to keep quiet?”
The parent is looking for a story, an explanation for a bruised, right? The questions seem pretty clear, but the story never comes out. The parent’s response is to ask more questions, to get clearer on the facts. Getting the story is the point of the conversation, isn’t it? But what the parent is not getting is the meaning of the behavior, the parent is not engaging the child emotionally(something has probably been happening at home that’s not making the child happy), and so the child stays distant. “But the child is being so rude.” Perhaps the parent should choose to focus on the child’s manners at that point, but then the real story of where the bruise came from will probably be lost so the aim of conversation (communication) is lost too. One can actually wait. Either focusing on manner at that point or trying to find out what happened. At some point in parenting, the topic of conversations begin to revolve around the behaviors we want our children to show on their own. There’s actually more to relationship than reprehension. This Parent-child communication breaks down because the parent stresses the responsibility of behaviour on the child all the time but fails to connect the emotional dots; other stuffs happening in the kid’s life. Communication isn’t something you do only when you have a problem. If you set aside regular time to share thoughts and feelings and enjoy each other’s company, it’s good for parent-child communication and relationship overall. And it’s good practice to talk when there is a problem.
Here are few examples of parent communication wreckers:
- Self-contradictory care: This involves constant care for the security of the kid which usually comes with a wish to follow the child everywhere if possible. This paradox can hinder communication, as the line between care and stalking is subtle, like the line between dependence and independence. You are probably conflicted between excessive care and a willingness to let them loose. Some parents even give intrusive phone calls in front of their child’s peers even when their child tells them about going to his/her friend’s house. Such children in return respond by turning off their phones.
- Imposition:The act of imposing, laying on ideas on your kids(I know what’s best for you, just do what I say). It usually involves taking away a child’s will. Don’t impose your own views onto your children. They are their own person. Guidance is acceptable, but the aggressive insistence of an idea is never a good idea. Let your children make their own mistakes. It’s the only way they’ll be able to truly learn things for themselves.
- Anger: It usually involves strong feeling of antagonisms. “I don’t know why I keep having to tell you this, you’re so annoying. . .” This style of communication comes from the fact that the child won’t accept the point we are trying to make. In this dialogue between parent and child, the parent is focused on lashing out at the child. If you are very angry about a behavior or an incident, don’t attempt communication until you regain your cool, because you cannot be objective until then. It is better to stop, settle down, and talk to the child later.
- Disesteem: Some parents hold little or no esteem for their child; they treat them as worthless. For example: Embarrassing the child or putting him on the spot in front of others will lead only to resentment and hostility, not good communication. When parents use a respectful approach, children are better able to understand and learn from them.
- Absentmindedness: It’s a feeling of being preoccupied due to distractions. Let the child know that you are interested and involved and that you will help when needed. Turn off the television or put the newspaper down when your child wants to converse. Avoid taking a telephone call when the child has something important to tell you.
- Gabbiness: This occurs when a parent is inclined to talking too much. Unless other people are specifically meant to be included, hold conversations in privacy. Everyone doesn’t have to know about every heart-felt conversation you have with your kid. The best communication between you and the child will occur when others are not around. If you are very tired, you will have to make an extra effort to be an active listener. Genuine active listening is hard work and is very difficult when your mind and body are already tired. Listen carefully and politely. Don’t interrupt the child when he is trying to tell his story. Be as courteous to your child as you would be to your best friend.
- Saying hurtful things: Some ways of talking are likely to hurt your child’s feelings and make your child less likely to listen to you. So try to avoid: calling your child names – for example, ‘You’re stupid’, bringing up the past – for example, ‘This is just like last time’, questioning your child’s intentions or motivation – for example, ‘You’re so self centered. I know you don’t care’, making unhelpful comparisons – for example, ‘You’re just like your mother!’.It’s also best to avoid phrases that imply that someone is always wrong – for example, ‘You always …’ and ‘You never …’. These statements can make your child defensive too. Don’t use putdown words or statements: dumb, stupid, lazy: “Stupid, that makes no sense at all” or “What do you know, you’re just a child.”
- Acting superior: Some parents act like nothing sensible can ever come from their child’s mouth so they tend to disregard the child when he/she wants to talk. Don’t tower over your child. Physically get down to the child’s level then talk so that they don’t feel as though their opinions are undervalued.
- Poor Time Management: Some parents and kids rarely have time to truly communicate. Poor time management comes with a deteriorative selection process, and parents sometimes don’t say what they should during communication. Ephemeral expressions such as ‘I love you’ at times like that may come across as plain and foreign. Set aside time each day to talk and play with your child. Creating a special time lets your child know she is important. It also strengthens the bond between the two of you.
There’s no sure way to become the flawless parent. Nonetheless, making small steps towards fortifying the bond with your children is invaluable. I hope this article was enlightening to you mothers and fathers out there. With this knowledge under your belt, you’re just that much closer to creating that special relationship(bond) you want with your kids.