- November 28, 2016
- Posted by: Dale W. Vernon
- Category: Communication, Education, Listening, Parenting, Self-evaluation, Values
Becoming a family that communicates is something that many desire, but have no idea how to accomplish. I was reminded of this during a recent speech I was giving when I asked the audience what they wanted to get out of our time together.
There were several responses, but one in particular stuck out to me because it made me think of my wife, Monica, and her fellow middle school teachers since it’s something they struggle with every day. The response was a question you may have asked in your own home — “How do you communicate with a teenage child?”
How to Be the Family That Communicates
Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy solution to developing good communication with a teenager. But there are steps you can take to make it a little easier.
First, devices and technology are not “communication” or even an exchange of ideas — they are a conduit to exchange information or data. Many of us falsely assume that since we text and email that we are communicating, but the truth is, we are not. Communication involves so much more — tone, facial expressions, and body language. So, step one, put down the devices.
Second, you have to build your foundation by creating a culture of communication in your home. In our home, we use our values as our foundation. This means that we incorporate those values in what we say and how we say it.
We execute the culture through our daily family huddles — quick, 10-minute get-togethers where we recap the previous day and plan for the day ahead. The key is being consistent and continuous in how you talk, act, and parent.
Third, always remember that you are the example. If your children see that you don’t communicate with your spouse or your head is always buried in your device, then what message are you sending? If you want to spark change in your home, you need to go first. Set the example of engaged communication.
Finally, make sure most discussions — especially the difficult ones — are conducted face-to-face, in person. We all know that things can get taken out of context when they’re in a text or an email, or even over the phone, for that matter. Want to truly be the family that communicates? Stop making “time” the victim, get in front of the people most important to you and have a good, old-fashioned conversation.
Don’t let those moments slip away, remind everyone in your home that you are a family that communicates. And then follow through.
Looking for more support in your effort to be a family that communicates? Click here to check out the book we wrote on this topic!