I oftentimes hear concerns from parents that they just can’t seem to talk to their kids. Those concerns are legitimate. Parents try,exhaustively, to communicate in one way or another, and many times their efforts are met with roadblocks, apathy, or even aggression. So what do you do when all you want to do is talk to your child? In this post and the next two , I’ll share three ways that you can open up the lines of communication with your kids and help them to see you as confidants.
1. Meet them where they are. This means that instead of talking about what YOU want to talk about, you let them tell you what they are WILLING to talk about. Discovering this takes patience and a willingness to put aside your desire to solicit certain information and just listen. For example, your son loves to play video games and hates when you interrupt him to talk. Instead, try approaching him, watching him play for a while, making a brief comment about how cool the game is, and then walking away. The next time, do the same thing, but this time, ask a question: “How do you manage to leap over the wall like that?” You might be surprised as he excitedly tells you how he discovered that move and then demonstrates it for you. Congratulate him and move on. Now he sees you as someone who is interested in his interests but won’t necessarily bother him when he’s pursuing them. Afterward, use the game as an opener for a conversation. Ask him about it, ask him who he plays against (assuming he’s online with the rest of the teenage boys) and what he likes about it. Let him tell you. And whatever you do, as tempting as it may be, don’t use it as an opportunity to tell him that you used to play outside, not in front of a computer. Whether we like it or not, times have changed.
A goal to work towards in this scenario? Actually playing the game with him or against him. It can happen, but you need to open up that line of communication first.