Parents Who Seek to Understand
“Blood” is essential to sustain human life. “Communication” is necessary to sustain human relationships. I believe the life-blood of relationships is Communication … but not the same old yackety-yak we may have heard growing up! Parents today know that we have to interact with our sons and daughters differently when they become teenagers. This is not easily done, especially when our teens prefer debating us rather than having an agreeable conversation.
I challenge you to think of three parents (excluding yourself) in your community who have enviable relationships with their teenager. Notice I didn’t ask you to name “families” … that might be nearly impossible. So I’m asking for individual parents – Mom or Dad. Can you name three? I hope so because if you can’t … things are probably worse than I think.
What I know for sure is that Communication between parents and their teenagers is under attack by forces (natural and supernatural) that are happy to see strife, misunderstanding and confusion in our families.
Strong Parent-Teen relationships are the first line of
defense against families falling apart at the seams …
Families that fall apart figuratively end up in divorce, separation or other forms of estrangement. Families that fall apart spiritually get lost in a fog of irreconcilable differences, unforgiveness, bitterness and depression. In both situations, family members feel lost in a private hell they cannot escape.
Two Forms of Communication: Choose One!
The words “Monologue” and “Dialogue” are directly related to Communication. But these words serve as opposites in any conversation aimed at effective Communication. The prefix “Mono” means ONE. The prefix “Di” means TWO. That’s the primary difference between a “Monologue” and a “Dialogue.”
Generally, when you start a conversation with someone, you hope to have a Dialogue. However, if you do not allow opportunity for the other person to respond to what you’re saying or to express his or her thoughts … you have instead created a Monologue. And you have deliberately breached the rules of effective Communication.
In verbal communication, a Monologue is an intentionally selfish attempt to get your point across without regard for how the other person thinks or feels.
The goal of a Monologue is to reach a voiceless Audience. The person or persons being spoken to have one function – to serve as a dumping ground for the Monologue. Give a Monologue a voiceless Audience and it is a happy gabby camper!
With Your Teenager … Choose “Dialogue!”
A Dialogue is by nature Selfless. With every interaction, the Dialogue hopes to Understand and be Understood. This cannot be achieved unless there is a give and take of interaction between the parties involved in the Dialogue. One Rule Applies: Speak and Listen… in turn!
The lines of effective Communication run in two directions – away from us and toward us. Any attempt to change the pattern or direction of the Exchange … will soon shut down Communication on both Lines.
To achieve the goal of effective Communication, the Dialogue is willing to “listen” and “respond” in turn. In doing so, the Dialogue allows the parties to move freely and respectfully on both Lines of Communication.
The most effective form of Communication between parents and teenagers is the Dialogue. We parents want our sons and daughters to participate in a two-way exchange that allows them to share their thoughts, feelings and even their opinions with us.
Too many parents, however, get trapped in a Monologue-style of interaction with their teens. They talk at their sons daughters and leave no space for them to respond, be heard or to fully understand what’s being said to them. When parenting teenagers, this is the worse style of Communication.
The world will not soon forget the words of the late great Stephen Covey who referred to Communication as the most important skill in life. In Habit 5 of his The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey challenged his readers to:
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
This quote is the perfect “Catch-All” phrase because it holds true for all forms of Communication. Parent-Teen relationships would be a lot stronger and much more resilient if Stephen Covey’s words were our Goal in every interaction with our teenagers. Let’s put icing on the cake by using Unconditional Love as the launching pad to manifest our Goal.
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This blog is an Excerpt from “Mom and Dad Don’t Have a Clue!” The eBook is now available on Amazon. Click the link below for a copy.
See Part 2 at: http://www.parentingyourteenforlife.com/parents-seek-understand-part-2/