Communication is the foundation of any relationship. As mothers, sometimes we think we are communicating with our children, but the opposite is true. Here is a step-by-step process for hindering communication with your kids:
1) Don’t listen to them
Our Delusion: Kids, especially teenagers, really enjoy being interrupted. In fact, they thrive on it because they know that what their mom says is far more important than their own thoughts. You’d be surprised how many teenagers have shared with me how they wished their parents would just stop listening to them all together, shutting down any dialogue and replace it with a parental monologue.
Mom Reality: As mothers, we run on full throttle all day from trying to make sure everyone is fed and clothed. In the midst of it, we become unaware when we are interrupting another person. Interruption seems to be a cyclical pattern in our society. Since no one listens to one another, we tend to interrupt the other person just to make sure we can be heard. Give your kids permission to tell you when you are interrupting them. It is one way we can keep the communication open with our kids.
2) Play their favorite game with them: Assumptions
Our Delusion: A tween’s favorite pastime is to play Assumptions with her parents. You remember how it is played: One person assumes they fully know what the other person is thinking and feeling about any given subject. There is no reason to inquire if the assumptions are correct, because he is just positive he knows what she is thinking. For added enjoyment, each player can begin their turn with “Wait! I know what you are going to say…..”
Mom Reality: Assumption is the end of communication in any relationship. As a mom, I can have some ideas of what my child is thinking, but there is no way to know for certain unless I ask. I cannot read her mind any more than she can read mine. Communication starts with intent listening. And we all know what they say about those making assumptions…
3) Silent Treatment
Our Delusion: After a hard day of school, a special treat for any kid is to come home to The Silent Treatment. They just love feeling the tension in the room and having to guess what the problem is rather than being told directly. The Silent Treatment is the best communication because after all, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!”
Mom Reality: For many kids, The Silent Treatment is exhausting and even scary. It allows their imaginations to run wild with thoughts that are likely untrue about them and you. Silence only furthers that conflict and builds more walls between you and your kids.
Obviously, these are said with a humorous tone. And it is probable that most of these occur in almost every household, if moms are honest. Communication may sound easy, but it is difficult because it is easier to talk to a person, than to listen to one another. With some practice, you and your teenager can be on a new road to improved communication