After teaching a workshop one day a participant came up to me with a big smile and a “lightbulb moment” look in her eye. She said to me, “Amy. It’s just all about communication, isn’t it?”
Ah-ha! My secret was out! It really is “all about communication.” Nothing more, nothing less. Of course the topics are maybe a little more challenging than chatting about the World Cup, but the pay off is huge.
The communication, however, needs to be taking place on a variety of topics, especially topics that can be challenging or charged. I’m talking politics, religion, clothing, TV and movies, choice of friends, etc.
We all need to be communicating with our kids about all kinds of things and doing it in a way that tells our kids we really do care about what they think and feel. The key to doing this, especially as they get older, is to adopt a peer-to-peer style of communication.
This means that rather than lecturing (which you probably don’t do with your friends) and making pronouncements, you pretend like you are having a conversation with a friend, at least until you can actually do it for real.
Ask open ended questions like “What do you think about…?” Inquire about their experiences, try to remain supportive and nonjudgmental as they talk about something.
Ask yourself “Would I talk to my best friend like this?” And if the answer is “No!” then you might want to change your tone and attitude.
Give it a try – and start with something that isn’t charged like sex – start with, well, just about anything else! It will take you a long way towards building great communication skills with your kids and you can guess where that will lead you – to great conversations about sex, love, and relationships.