Friday, June 1, 2012
Mom/Dad ... Can we Talk?
What do you do when your child tells you something that stops you in your tracks? Whatever it is, perhaps it's a deep, dark secret that you never expected; perhaps it's a lifelong dream that you would never have guessed; perhaps it's _________________. Fill in that blank with whatever it could be that you just did not see coming.
What do you do? Well, I hope that first, you hug your child, let them know that you LOVE them, and then thank them for telling you. That's big, don't you think? Sometimes we allow ourselves to get hijacked by shock, fear, drama ... when what we really should do is look at the real, simple, raw truth first: Your child trusted you enough and had the hutzpah to come to you with his/her issues. Second, and I'm going out on a limb here, but ... whatever the issue is, I'm guessing that it did not change your love for him/her. Please say that out loud to your child.
Then you can begin laying whatever groundwork is needed to deal with whatever issues surround the circumstance at hand because only then are you doing it openly and knowingly with unconditional love and acceptance. Although you might not understand, and perhaps you don't fully accept whatever 'it' is, you have at least accepted the message at this point, and sometimes that is all that is needed ... for now.
Like anything else, you will navigate through this one step at a time. Seek professional help if/when needed, but please, oh please, never lose sight of the fact that you LOVE this child ... and please, oh please ... don't let them lose sight of that fact, either!
If your child has not opened up to you, yet you suspect there is something they are trying to broach, perhaps you can just periodically mention that you sense something 'in the air' and want him/her to know that you are there when they are ready to talk. Although it might take a while, at least they know that you are 'in tune' and open for reception.
Even when they feel that they are ready to share, they might have difficulty beginning; it might help if you simply put your hands on their shoulders and tell them to just say the first word, and the rest will flow. Now, listen ... really listen ... with an open heart. Don't be shy about asking questions ... just be aware of how a barrage of questions might make them feel. Respect is a huge component to open lines of communication. You've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.
If you are an avid reader of my posts and articles, you know my 3 steps to open communication:
-Common, everyday chit-chat
Try to keep it light, short, and not so oppressive. Who wants to 'open up' to a long, dark 'talk?' It's the common, everyday chit-chat that breeds comfort and continued communication. That's the space where the best relationships are formed.
With that said, perhaps you can let your child know that you have a ton of questions swirling around in your head, but you don't want to deluge him/her. Suggest that you select three questions each week to ask so that this is not the only thing you talk about with him/her. This will help you home-in on what is important to you, and it will help ensure that your relationship remains solid. The foundation of your relationship was built upon a lifetime of experiences, and I'm guessing that you don't want this newly discovered circumstance to become the focal point of your relationship from this point forward.
You may have to remind yourself to continue to nurture all elements of your relationship as you always have. Put effort into doing what you have always done with your child; don't make this situation all there is to your time together, and try not to bring your questions and comments into every conversation. It is important not to lose the connection you already have while building a connection to work through a new situation.
And, whatever else you do, please remember to continue to build your child's self-esteem. This will help ensure that s/he has the tools to navigate through life successfully, and with velocity! There is no better time than now to work on that!
As always, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if I can be of further help to you.
Until next time, here's to just loving our kids~