Communication is key.
That’s sort of a running joke we have where I work, among our team. We find that if we don’t stay in contact with each other throughout the day, then things get missed, or things get done… twice. But if we update each other from time to time, then our day runs more smoothly and the work all gets done… once.
Of course, the idiom that communication is key is no joke at all. Communication is key in marriages, friendships, parent/child relationships, and… well… in every single relationship there is. It’s even key in our relationship with our heavenly Father. God knew this to be true and came up with the Bible as His best, and most reliable form of communication with us. Sharing of information keeps us connected in relationships.
Last week, in “Eighteen is No Magic Number”, I talked about how as our kids grow up and out, we can’t cut the apron strings too soon. While they will need more and more freedoms as they grow up, our kids will still need to communicate with us.
Not too long ago, one of my teenagers was sulking around the house like his dog had died. Since we don’t have a dog, I knew it had to be something else. I poked, prodded, and begged my kid to tell me what was going on. This was not their normal behavior. I even enlisted another of their siblings to help me figure out what was going on. In the end, it was just a short season of the doldrums, and soon my teenager was back to normal.
Apparently they told a friend about my diligence in trying to find out what had been troubling them. I was sad to hear that their friend said, “My parents never ask me how I’m doing.” That one made me sad. Really? Never? That’s just a regular question around our house.
I was talking with a friend once and mentioned something that one of my other teens had shared with me. She stopped me and said, “They really tell you everything, don’t they?” She went on to tell me that she had no idea what was going on with hers, they never told her anything
We have a culture of communication in our home. It’s just always been there. We do not value secrets. There is nothing I have that Matthew does not have access to and vise versa. There is no subject in our lives that is taboo. Nothing our kids cannot approach us about.
Do our kids really tell us EVERYTHING? Likely not. But they CAN. And they do tell us most things. Sometimes what they tell us is hard to hear. Sometimes I want to put my hands over my ears and start singing to block it out. But I don’t. They need a safe place to fall, and I want to be that place. Our kids know that we will walk through whatever we need to walk through with them.
Is your home a place of secrets or a place of openness and clear communication? Are there subjects that are off limits? Or can your kids come to you with anything? If you haven’t fostered an environment of openness all along, it may take some doing to turn that ship around, but you can. You can start by just being available when they want to talk. Just beware, that for teens, that could mean some late night conversations… And prepare yourself to hear whatever it is they need to tell you. And then walk with them through it. Pretty soon, you’ll find that communication with your kids changes everything. It really is key.