You and your kids are doing great. You're having fun time with them. They are accepting your authority. Your communication with them is awesome! Can we package this and put it in a pill, so that every family can feel this way? So, what's going right?
In my book, Teachable Moments: Building Blocks of Christian Parenting, my lead-off chapter confirms that communication is relationship. What's going great? Your communication with your children. They get what you are saying and you get them. Christian parenting is not about power, who's in charge, do what I say. It's about relationship. How you talk to your children, the communication, defines the quality of relationship
When things are going great, there are four types of communication happening. First, we engage in directional talk. "Be careful, Sweetheart. Don't go too close to the water. It's way over your head." We give direction and it is well received. Second is instructional talk. "Put your shoulder down and drive your defender. The lower lineman wins the battle." Children learn by helpful instruction. Third are check-ins. These by nature are brief comments meant to elicit information. "Dude, what's up?" or, "Hey, Punkin. Rough day at preschool?" With the information you get, you decide how to proceed.
Finally, the Holy Grail of parental communication is teachable moments. In these moments, you impart your wisdom, perspective, and counsel for your child. "Boy, when I was your age, my dad used to tear up my butt for the least little thing. Now, I don't do that with you. Do you want to know why?" or, "You know, sharing works really good. First, when you share, you make a friend. Also, sharing helps you enjoy giving, instead of just getting all the time."
These are the times when all is right with the world and being the parent is your best job ever. Of course, how your words are received determines what happens next. If you get any verbal or nonverbal red light, "Leave me alone." "Not now, Dad." or eye roll, or looking away, then switch gears to Active Listening. This is when you focus on your child's feelings and try to draw them out. A check-in comment can get things rolling. "Wow, that's not like you. Anything going on I can help with?" or, "I have some thoughts. Want to hear them?" When you feel his emotional fever going down because of your active listening, you get to go back to the fun stuff. Be vigilant, but when things are great, go for it.
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