If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it 1000 times: Homeschooling is as much about building relationships as it is about learning.
And I agree with that. Totally.
But there’s no question relationship building is dependent upon good communication. And we can count on it – whenever there’s a breakdown in communication, relationships will suffer, and when relationships suffer, learning usually suffers with it.
If one of the highest goals of homeschooling is maintaining strong relationships within the family, which encourages learning and good decision-making in our children, then it’s important to be careful never to contribute to that breakdown in communication, which is all too easy to do sometimes.
4 Tips for Effectively Cutting Off Communication with Your Children
So if you’re looking to cut off communication with your children, (and I realize you aren’t, but hang with me here,) then I have some great tips for doing so effectively!
Tip #1: Always be too busy to listen to your kids’ story-telling.
I’m hearing the groans of moms everywhere who have at least one (and maybe more!) of those chatterbox kids who never stops talking and telling stories. Never. You go through your day longing, desperately, for some brief space of silence in the day, but it almost never comes.
No, I’m not here to condemn you or pile you with guilt for not listening to every. single. story.
But I am encouraging you to listen as much as you can, and with as much interest as you can, engaging your children where possible.
Because it matters to kids.
When we show interest in what they have to tell us, it builds their confidence, confirms to them our love, and sharpens their communication skills in remarkable ways.
Tip #2: Always minimalize your childrens’ problems and concerns.
Okay, I realize when you’re all grown up dealing with grown-up life problems like electric bills and busted radiators and possible layoffs, you tend to roll your eyes at the tweener grieving over the party she wasn’t invited to or the 6-year-old whose world has crumbled because he has lost his favorite plush dinosaur.
But, honestly, sometimes we need to stop and think back to when we were 12 and we were the only one not invited to a party. It was devastating! To the mind and experience of a 12-year-old, it was the worst thing that could ever happen! And the same with a lost dinosaur.
We should be so thankful for that. It means our kids are safe, that they are protected, that they aren’t experiencing a lot of the pain and grief and suffering so prevalent in other parts of the world. Thank God for that!
But they need to know that their struggles matter to us–even the ones that seem so silly and self-indulgent to our grown-up hearts and minds. After all, how can we expect our kids to come to us with their serious, grown-up problems if all we ever did was belittle and ignore their childhood ones?
Tip #3: Never bother to live by the things you say.
Sometimes we’re big talkers, but actually abiding by the things we say is another story. We demand honesty in our children, but they see us “tweak the truth” ourselves whenever we deem it necessary.
They hear our tirade about a matter of right and wrong, only to watch us cave on the issue when our stand places us in a difficult position or threatens to hurt our reputation. They put full confidence in our promises to them, only to have us “amend” those promises when fulfilling them becomes more complicated than we had expected.
When our children see constant discrepancies in what we say and what we do, it will affect free and open communication. For one, their trust in us and their willingness to believe anything we say will be damaged. But it’s also likely they’ll learn to implement their own policy of “say one thing, do another.” Meaning, of course, that not only will YOU not be able to trust them, nobody else likely will either.
Tip #4: Shut them down the moment they say something contrary to your own beliefs.
Whether the subject is personal, political, or even religious, sometimes we think we’re doing our children a favor by immediately and completely shutting down any opposition to our accepted beliefs. They may challenge a certain political stance or express doubts about a doctrinal issue of the church, and our way of dealing with it is to cut them off. After all, you have to nip that “rebellion” in the bud, and certainly our loud, abrupt, “No! That’s not right!” is all they need to hear to be fully convinced.
Except that we are far better off allowing our children to express their true thoughts and feelings to us than demanding outward conformity that has never touched the heart.
I certainly don’t mean that we encourage or excuse rebellion, but, then again, sincere questions, though we often feel very threatened by them, are not rebellion. And isn’t it better to have a child look at us and say, “Mom, I don’t know if I believe in God anymore,” than for them to pretend that they do, just because they know they’ll get nothing but grief from us if they say what they’re really thinking?
Instead, when we ask questions in return, delving into the source of the doubts and spending time coming up with answers in an interested, uncondemning way, it keeps communication open, which certainly gives us greater opportunity to direct our children’s beliefs a certain way, but also encourages them to think critically to find answers to the questions that plague their minds.
I hope you’ll use these tips (Well, actually, I hope you DON’T use these tips!) so you can keep communication between yourself and your children open and honest. I think you’ll find it’s not only best for your relationship, but that it also makes your homeschool much more fun and productive.
Are you being careful to keep communication with your children open? What bad habits have you seen that cut off communication between moms and their kids? What good habits can you add to this list to help us keep communication open?
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