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   Home  > Tips

Keep Talking with Your Children

Keep Talking to your children

What do you think makes a good parent? I had a tip a little while ago from a bright, attractive sixteen year old. Despite her vividly dyed hair, she looked smart and was a pleasure to talk to. She knew what she wanted to aim for in life and I'm sure she will succeed, but it hasnít all been plain sailing.

She was emerging from a tough eighteen months. The rest of her school mates teased her because she enjoyed working and was doing well. She was excluded from the "in-crowd" because she didn't want to drink, smoke or experiment with drugs. Things came to a head for her when her best friend, who had suddenly got involved in a new weird fashion, dropped her over night. She felt alone and hurt and began to doubt herself and the values that she lived by.

Fortunately for her, she had understanding adults around her at school and in her hobbies outside school. Her family had always been open and encouraged the children to share their concerns and feelings. She told me that many of her class mates felt that they couldn't talk to their parents about anything important. They had no other adults they dared talk to. "The ones who are surviving the teenage years, the ones who are strong and have some idea where they are going in life," she said, " are the ones who can talk to their parents. The rest don't seem to care whether they do well or what the future holds." How sad!

The support of her family had brought this young lady through the worst of her troubles. She had a sense of hope for the future and purpose in life. She had confidence in herself to face life and make something of it. I'm sure one day she will have a good listening ear for her own children.

So keep listening and talking to your children, from an early age.

  • Deal with your own hang-ups and the things that embarrass you and make you feel awkward, so they don't act as barriers to your listening.
  • Don't think you have to have all the answers. Often they just need to talk things through and know they are loved and accepted.
  • Give them the space to get round to talking - it may not be at a convenient time!
  • Build up a friendship with them by shared times and activities and laughter.
  • Be sensitive in the way you respond, encourage honesty, integrity, compassion for others.
  • Be willing to discuss difficult issues like sex before marriage, drugs, euthanasia, ecology, whatever, - when they want to.
  • Go on loving them when they lose their way or let you down.
  • Encourage them, praise them and give them a sense of hope for the future.
  • Try to see their point of view, but share yours too. Don't try and be trendy and think you have to change your stance on things you think are important. They need you to be a steady, unchanging, reliable and loving anchor point among all the changes and fads of the teenage world.

When did you last listen, really listen, to what matters to your child?

Tip by Kate


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