The Parent to Child Communication Connection
Get advice on turning everyday conversations into thoughtful discussions that will strenghen the parent/child bond.
One of my goals as a parent is to be what I have dubbed a “kitchen table mom.” At the end of each day I want to set a table with glasses of cold, fresh milk and plates of warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies in
preparation for my children’s arrival home. They would gather around me, munch their snacks and share fascinating tidbits about what’s happening in their lives. We would discuss problems, resolve issues, and plan futures.
In reality, getting my children to talk to me can be a real challenge. As I have considered this problem I have come to realize that it is not their unwillingness to open up, it is my lack of initiative in getting a conversation started. Invariably my daily greeting to each of my kids is, “Hi, honey, how was your day?”
This question generally elicits the same response, “fine,” and an end to my hoped-for discussion. I need to change my tactics.
Arnold M. Kerzner, MD, a child and family psychiatrist in private practice in Belmont, Massachusetts, suggests that I may be going about things the wrong way. “In parent/child conversations the most
important thing is to develop the relationship, not get the facts. Don’t start from the inquisition mode. Start from the feelings mode. Make a statement like, ‘it’s so nice to see you home,’ to create an atmosphere where the child will feel special, unique, and wanted.”
Dr. Kerzner warns, “parents all too frequently move into a goal-directed relationship with their children. They want to get information when they should be developing closeness.”
Timing is Everything
It may not just be the words you use, but the time you choose that has the greatest impact on the conversation. “A lot of things happen during a child’s day,” says Adele Faber, co-author of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. “Often a child has not processed the input of the day when you first greet them. Your best response is a hearty
‘welcome home; glad to see you.’ Then be available when the child is ready to talk.”
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN