Sunday, July 11, 2010

Parenting Tip #46 Conversations vs Lectures

Do your children have problems? Is there something going on in their lives that's not right. Are they fighting with siblings? Being sassy to you, the parent? Then you better go lecture them right now and let them know who's in charge. You're the boss, not them. Lay down the law. Make them shape up!

Doesn't work does it? You are lecturing while they are ignoring you or yelling back or giving you every excuse in the book. But by golly, you are the parent and they are the child and they had just better listen to you!

If you have power struggles like this with your children, no one is going to win. Somehow you need to have a change of perspective. You need to view your children as special ones who have been entrusted to you by God to teach and love. You share mutual respect for them and want them to grow up to be responsible individuals. But how do you do it?

By having conversations instead of lectures. A conversation is a two way exchange. It involves talking AND listening—by both parties. A conversation is not a judging, yelling, accusation forum. It's a “we have a problem, what can we do about it?” exchange. It's a time to listen and understand a child or teenager's point of view. A time to express your feelings and needs. A time to discuss options that can bring about a win-win situation for you and your child.

But your child doesn't want to abide by the family rules, you say. In a conversation, a parent needs to calmly restate the family rule, but then add, “how can we make this work so we're all happy?” Then listen to the ideas that might come forth. For example, in our family, our children had to take piano lessons. Was everyone happy with that? Uh, no! So I had to have many a conversation where I listened and then we brainstormed ideas. With one daughter, I did her dishes while she practiced, with a son, I bought his choice of sugary cereal if he practiced cheerfully for a week.

For older children can you have conversations about curfew? Can you talk about fighting without ending up fighting?

It's funny, but if you talk calmly and respectfully to your children, they will reciprocate. If they feel your love and concern, they will cooperate. You are a family—all on the same page. No power struggles, just conversations to work out problems, express concerns and show love.

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