I want a relationship with my kids that lasts a lifetime.
Over the years I’ve realized there are 10 things I ought to avoid if I want to keep those conversations going and our relationships thriving.
1. Talk over my kids. Instead I need to listen and be respectful of their point of view if I want them to be respectful and listen to mine. Being a conversation bully builds a wall between me and my children.
2. Embellish or exaggerate. Once I head down the exaggeration road, there is no turning back. My kids will quit listening. My thoughts, no matter how valid, will be lost in the embellishment black hole.
3. Talk as if my opinion is fact. If I dogmatically present my preferences as fact and belittle opposing ideas, my kids will tune me out. Thankfully they have learned to distinguish between objective fact and subjective opinion. It’s okay if they think differently than I do. It is good for parents and their young adults to discuss and disagree agreeably.
4. Blame others for my challenges, struggles, or failures. If I make excuses and blame others rather than take the responsibility for failure and learn from it, I lose all credibility.
5. Major in the minors. Complaining and whining about life when things don’t go my way makes me look like a wimp or worse… a nit-picker and nagger. All my kids will hear is blah, blah, blah.
6. Gossip. My kids’ eyes glaze over if I start talking about other people. They don’t want to hear that stuff and I shouldn’t be talking like that. There are way more interesting things to discuss.
7. Judgmental attitude. Discernment is a good thing but a judgmental attitude shuts down a verbal exchange and builds defenses in the other person.Conversations peppered with humility and honesty regarding right and wrong, good and bad prove to provide parental insight into the young person’s world.
8. Be easily offended. When we are easily offended we put the other person in the position of having to explain or defend. Why not assume the best? Ask the child what he means before jumping to a conclusion.
9. Be negative. Who wants to listen to a negative person? Who wants to hear another person poke holes in a dream? Who wants to be put in the position of always having to build up or point out the positive? Negativity is an energy sucker.
10. Interrogation. Lots of questions, fired one after another feels intrusive to the receiver. If I use interrogation in conversation my children will shut down and seek to protect their privacy.
Conversations that contain the qualities of kindness, authenticity, and respect build that relational bridge we want with our young adult kids. We may not always see eye-to-eye but we can still converse– with love– face-to-face.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2
What have you discovered stalls conversations with your kids? What jump starts them?
With faith, hope, and love,
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