By Rosalind Sedacca, CCT
As a divorced parent you can never pay too much attention to your communication skills with your children. It keeps the doors open to a healthier, more positive relationship with them. It makes you more sensitive to issues of concern early on so you can nip them in the bud. It encourages your children to talk about what they are feeling, questions they have and situations that are creating conflict for them.
Don’t sit down and say, let’s talk. Find comfortable times and places where conversation can flow naturally and easily. Then bring up related subjects in a casual way. Watching TV or movies at home can often be a catalyst for valuable conversation. Driving in the car together can also be a time of discussion, questions and sharing feelings.
Here are some tips that can help you ease into more productive communication with your kids.
- Asking why can be intimidating and close off your conversation. Instead ask what happened questions which keep the dialogue open.
Be patient. Don’t react or respond until you get the full message. Sometimes it takes some meandering for your child to reach the crucial point of what they want to say. Don’t shut them off too soon!
Remember that preaching, moralizing or “parenting” comments can put up barriers to clear communication. Listening is your most valuable skill and tool.
Watch your judgments and put-downs, even with upsetting information. Don’t belittle your children, call them names or insult their behaviors. Talk to them – not at them! The difference is felt as respect.
Acknowledge your children for coming to you. Praise their braveness. If you were at fault, apologize honestly and discuss how you can make changes for the future.
Show that you accept and love them – even if their behaviors were not acceptable. Then help them come up with some acceptable solutions they can understand and feel good about.
Put yourself in your child’s place and you will likely make wiser decisions when it comes to talking about sensitive areas in their life. Afraid to talk about touchy subjects? Get some help from a counselor. It’s essential that you talk to your children and be role model for them. Don’t let them down!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce & Parenting Coach and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! For her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, free ezine, coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, go to: www.childcentereddivorce.com.
© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.