Doesn’t every parent want their kids to be better than them? It’s nice to want but how can we accomplish it? A major step in making sure you have well developed great kids is communicating with them, meeting their needs and being good examples for your children.
Why is communicating with your teenagers so hard? "The basic challenge is that parents very often speak without understanding how their children receive the message," says Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain. "We often make an assumption that our kids understand. But then we wonder, 'Why didn't they do what I said?'"
Surprisingly a major part of talking is listening. It’s important to show through your body language that you are actively listening to your child, so take a break for doing the dishes or checking your email and actively listen to your child. The next step is to repeat what you heard your child say, using your language and if there were some underlying feelings in the talk, express those as well, this shows your teenager that you have heard and internalized what she said. If you need more information, ask specific questions to clarify follow up questions acknowledge your child’s feelings and gets them to talk about their feelings. The next step is to acknowledge her feelings, it maybe all that she needs. If your teenager’s issue needs to be resolved, whether its I don’t like school, and am not going anymore, to how can I help my friend who is in getting into drugs. Whether you agree with your teenager or not, make sure to not directly disagree with what your teen has said, rather pose another question, like “What’s the worst part about school?”, and use that as a launching point to solve the underlying problem for your teen at school.
Another important kind of communication with your kids is to share your values and wisdom with them. Values on how we treat others, showing gratitude, being charitable and gracious. Share stories that represent your values with your kids and get them to share their values with you. One key value I’d like to imbue my kids with is, leaving the earth in better condition than when I got it.
Protecting the environment is a great ongoing conversation to have. From polluting less, recycling and reusing whenever we can. A great idea is to have your teenage kids research projects to work out ways to make your family more environmentally friendly. The projects will pull your family closer and instill confidence in your kids. As an added bonus, make the projects fun!
To solidify your values in your kids, its most important for your kids to see you practicing your values in your everyday life. Kids are always watching, you need to ‘walk the talk’. For example, treat waitstaff and all service people with the same respect and dignity you expect. On garbage day in the summer leave ice cold water out for the garbage disposal staff. Stop and give the homeless man on the corner some charity and food.
Here are some example projects you can setup to make your family for more environmentally friendly: Reduce pollution, Choice of new family vehicle (Gas, Diesel, Hybrid or Electric), Housing choice and improvements to reduce usage of electric, heating fuel and water usage, reduce consumption, reduce garbage by increasing recycling and consuming less.
Let us expand on one of the projects listed above, choice of family vehicle. With Tesla motors in the news lately this is a good project to undertake. The first step is to figure out what size, driving range, features and color you will want.
The key to raising good kids, is communication and being a good example of the value system, you want your kids to have. And most importantly have fun along the way!