Has anyone else noticed that kids seem to be growing up a lot quicker these days? Sure, a case could
be made that a hundred years ago it was common for kids to get married early in their teenage years,
so not that much has changed, really. Of course, the life expectancy back then was about 50, so that
argument doesn’t really hold water. The point is, kids are so busy being connected to the whole
world through the internet, social media, and their many technological devices that they are no longer
connecting with their families. And they’re probably learning a lot more about the world than parents
would like, and a lot earlier in life. But you can get back to basics with your kids, and it starts with
opening the lines of communication.
There’s no denying that modern kids can be hard to talk to. For one thing, they have their own lingo.
But that’s really nothing new; you probably used slang in your childhood that threw your parents for a
loop, too (I can’t be the only one who perturbed my father by him “dude”). Even if you’re not hep to
their jive, you can try talking to your kids in regular old English. Even if they don’t seem to know how to
speak it at times, they can at least understand what you’re saying. But sometimes it can be difficult just
to get started, and getting them to open up may seem tougher than breaking into Fort Knox.
However, it behooves you to keep in mind that any wall may be breached – you just have to find the
weak spot. Often, it starts with a positive attitude. It’s easy for parents to get caught up in the demands
of daily life and start ushering their kids around like cattle, giving them directives (Get dressed! Do your
homework! Eat your veggies!) and talking AT them instead of TO them. This is going to require some
effort on your part, so you first need to recognize when you’re treating your kids like troops that are
at your command. Instead, try asking them to do things. You can always get strict if you have to, but
nobody likes to be treated like a robot. You may find that this simple trick has them warming up to you
in no time.
Another option is to ask them about themselves, and don’t give up if they seem reticent to talk at
first. One-word responses are the first line of defense in a child’s arsenal and they will use them to
stave off your attempts at conversation. But keep at it even when you’re rebuffed! The alternative
is letting days, months, or even years go by without knowing what your kids are thinking, feeling,
and experiencing when they’re away from you (or even when they’re with you). Eventually your
perseverance will win out. Just remember not to be judgmental when they finally do open up to you,
and try not to give unsolicited advice.
What is communication but a means of connecting with those around you? You can get to know your
kids through activities, by watching them interact with others, or by asking others that know them
(siblings, teachers, friends), but wouldn’t you really rather have a first-hand conversation? Even if
the lines of communication have broken down, it’s never too late to mend them and begin having the
fulfilling relationship with your kids that will last into adulthood.