You just don’t get it.” Spoken or unspoken by both the parent and the child, why do both parties experience constant choppy and dead spots? Are we both constantly out of range that our lines of communication have been severely affected?
Seeking answers, I made a short trip to my next-door neighbor, an adolescent specialist. Before I transition into that particular conversation, which zoomed in on effective parenting methods, it is important to define her expertise. Adolescent medicine is a subspecialty branch of pediatrics whose focus is directed toward understanding teenagers and their concerns.
How can I help? This was her first line upon seeing me step into her office. Encouraged, I asked if there was a formula on how best to raise children. What followed was a comfortably intense and open discussion on parenting methods, relationship issues between the parent and the child, the tragedy of having an overload of information, and a comparison of how it was then and how it is now. From the start, it was clear to both of us that the topic at hand not only involved biological but parent figures as well.
Authoritarian, permissive, neglectful, and authoritative—these were the parenting styles shared. To which category do you belong? Initially, I was confused between authoritarian and authoritative and was extremely tempted to interrupt. For her, “it is all about a balance between providing support and control.” Instill high control and high support, that is being authoritative and this is the most ideal method to adopt.
“Love with limits.” It is essential that children need to be given rules in black and white and must be made aware that there are limitations. This teaches them independence, the ability to recognize right from wrong, and consequently contributes to building self-esteem and self-confidence. Teach them Christian values. Do not lecture. Be a role model. Your actions, whether consciously done or not, how you treat people and situations, how you react to stressful encounters, how you value honesty and integrity, how you honor your word, and how you show respect are of tremendous influence to a very impressionable child. Values inhaled from childhood play a big role as they grow into their own person.
Listen. Complement the teaching of values by learning how to listen. This was another takeaway from that conversation. We all suffer and are constantly under attack from noise pollution and both parties need to learn to listen. Focus on the word “learn.” As a mother and a doctor for teens, she shared that it took quite a while, a great deal of practice, and colossal attempts to “bite that tongue,” before she acquired the necessary skills of truly listening, and it was never easy. To cap the discussion, she reminded me of the importance of giving children that chance and the space to explain, but to make sure to let them know that you are still the parent and they need to follow.
Stepping back and analyzing what transpired that afternoon, two words rang true. Time and effort. It takes both time and effort to raise children, to work at being that ideal parent, and to start repairing or rebuilding parent-child relationships. It always takes two to make things work.
The gift of time is one of the best, if not the best, forms of nonverbal communication to show you care and to show your love. One can never be too busy. Find opportunities for physical face-to-face time. “Talk to Mom or Dad” is to be included in that tick list. If distance is an issue, make that call or resort to resurrecting snail mail and experience the thrill of sending and receiving precious handwritten letters. Never dodge calls and make it a habit to give surprise visits, and please, ditch texting your parents within the confines of your home. Nothing beats showing up in person.
Message sent from this end.
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