Parenting is really hard. There is no manual or guide book- no matter how many books you see in the store- none of them are adequate to help raise your child, because you child is unique.  Every child needs to be parented differently- that’s just the way it is. But that being said, this week I’m going to explore some universal parenting things that I have found helpful.

Communication.  Really- this isn’t just about parenting.  It’s the first thing you need in any relationship. Without communication you have nothing.

  1. Set aside time to talk to your child every day.  Every day.  I don’t care how busy you are.  I don’t care how busy they are.  I want you to ask yourself: what is more important than carving out 10 or 15 minutes to actually talk to your kid.
  2. When I say talk, I really mean listen. Listen to what your child is saying to you when they answer a question or share an anecdote. Are they looking away from you? Are they smiling? Are they trying to gauge your reaction to what they are saying? How are they answering you? Look for the unspoken clues.
  3. Ask them questions. I know we have all faced the “What did you do in school?” “Nothing” scenario. But don’t leave it at that. I say to my kid- “Really? You stared at the walls all day?” (this was when she was younger) Now if my daughter is stupid enough to say “Nothing” I will say something like “Ok- so when you left the apartment today, did you see anyone in the lobby? Did you bus or subway? How long did you have to wait?” After a minute of me going through the first steps of her day, she eventually comes up with something to tell me.
  4. Catch them when they’re tired. When my daughter was younger I would read to her at night. After book time was the absolute best time to talk to her because her defenses were down- she would just tell me everything on her mind.
  5. Talk to your kid about your life. We play a dinner “game” called best/worst.  We all say the best part of our day and the worst part of our day. this is great because my kid has learned from an early age that we all have bad days, we all have lousy things happen to us, but we still survive. I think kids sometimes think that nothing ever goes wrong for anyone else.  They see that life does suck but we all bounce back.
  6. Tell your kids about your life.  All of it. Age appropriately of course.
  7. Be the one to talk to your kids about sex and their bodies. From an early age, and of course, age appropriately.  Make sure they have the correct facts.
  8. Don’t lie to them.  But remember, sometimes a simple truthful answer is all you need. Don’t tell them every gory detail.  Start simple.  It usually works, especially when they are young.  On the other side, you can go into a very complex answer- chances are they’ll be bored by what you are saying. But at least you were honest…

At the end of the day, keep the conversation going, with your kids, your partner, your best friend.  Talking to one another is the simples most basic tool we have at our disposal.  Use it.

23 thoughts on “Parenting 101: Communication

  1. Great words LA, and ones that I have tried to live by as my kids grew up. Be present as a parent and be responsible as a parent for showing your kids how to communicate, no matter what needs to be said on both sides. I never had this parenting example as a child and when I began my own family I vowed to change that old routine. I think we have managed well, and continue to exchange words in this same way by setting aside time to talk now that the adults have their own lives. I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything.

    Your post makes me rather wistful though. I have talked about my ex and his inability to communicate with me. That carried over heavily with our kids as well. I remember telling him long ago how sad it made me to watch him missing so much of their lives, missing knowing them as people because he could never just sit with them, listen to them, converse with them about anything other than superficial crap, then drift away to his TV. His lack of interaction with them hurt me terribly. I still have not approached them about their feelings on this, but how can they be okay with it?

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    1. My father wasn’t, and still isn’t a great communicator. He has told me he regrets not being around more when I was younger and I have accepted this. It’s just who he is. I wish we had/have a different relationship, but I need to move forward. Conversely, my mother was always around, but honestly my relationship with her isn’t that great either because she talks at me not to/with me (that should have been in my blog) I actually have a bigger problem with my mom because she doesn’t admit she made errors. Now…that being said, your kids will have issues with him, and they will probably parent differently than he did, and they will accept it but not necessarily get over it. I think we all have things with our parents that we struggle with. Just be there for them when they need to talk about it

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  2. Wonderful insights. I like the best/worst. Mine are all grown now and occasionally I’ll find out something that happened when they were younger and going to school and I wish I would have known about it then. I didn’t find out until years later that some kids called my daughter “Chewbacca” because she had some hair on her forearms. Didn’t notice that she shaved her arms from then on either. Makes me feel like a bad parent.

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  3. Exactly right.

    We’ve also played a game where we all compliment each other (and ourselves), and another where we say 2-3 things we felt and why.

    I like the idea of individual conversations with each child. So much of what I do with mine is collective.

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  4. I live in suburbia, so the car is the best time to talk. Always has been, which is why when they start driving themselves it’s hard. The most important thing is being non-judgmental. I can’t tell you how many times my daughter says, “I’ll tell you something if you promise not to judge.”

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  5. I love this so much!!! Spending time and listening and interacting with your child is one of the single most important things you can do for them. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. This is right in line with an article I just read about how parents can lovingly communicate with their children. Here’s a link:
    You highlighted some excellent points in this post. There’s nothing more important than making time to communicate with our children. It’s our responsibility to help them navigate through their changing bodies, raging hormones and all the difficulties in this crazy world. A little time now could save their lives tomorrow. Thank you for reminding me of this.

    Liked by 1 person

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