Posts Tagged ‘communication’

DadPad: Connecting with Your Kids series-#1 Be Bold; Engage; Let Go

March 23, 2010

Today’s Guest Author: Steve Davis.  Steve is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force.  After various trips and missions around the world, he retired from the Air Force in 2004.  Steve is married to his wife, Laura.  Together they live in Little Rock, AR and have four children, all graduated from high school and at various early stages of college and post college life.  Steve is a leader in the church, has volunteered to lead a number of groups in building Habitat for Humanity homes for families around the Little Rock area, namely through Fellowship Bible Church’s ShareFest activities.  He’s also led community groups and loves to teach from the Word of God.

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My wife and I have three daughters and one son, who now range in age from 19 to 24. As we moved into the high school years, I saw my kids naturally yearning for more independence. Thanks to great advice from some wise peers (old guys like myself), I came to realize that I was going to spend much more time relating to my kids as adults than I had spent relating to them as children. Instead of dreading their impending adulthood, I began to anticipate it as a new frontier in our relationship. Here are three keys I’ve learned to relating to my adult kids.

  • First, BE WILLING TO LET GO. As our kids move into their last couple of years of high school, they naturally start to pull away. They develop lives of their own, and need greater freedom. Our initial reaction can be to clamp down more tightly. But the harder you hold on, the more they will fight it. It’s important to allow you kids to start making their own decisions about simpler things while they are still in the safe environment of home. I wouldn’t presume to tell you what your kids’ curfew should be, but areas like that are great places for you to reach a consensus with your older high school students before they head off to college, where you won’t know how late they stay out anyway! Most importantly, giving your kids greater responsibility for themselves as they approach graduation (and beyond) reinforces the understanding that you see them as an adult, not just as your child.
  • Second, BE ENGAGED. Wait a minute, what happened to letting go? As with most things in life, it’s all about balance. We don’t want to smother our adult kids, but we don’t want to abandon them, either. My goal is to have at least one significant encounter my adult kids each week. Significant has to be relative, given our current pace of life and my kids’ distinct personalities. I often drive the 30 minutes to my son’s university to share a dinner during the week. For my youngest daughter, handwritten cards are huge. I send her one every week. You need to learn what is meaningful to your kids, and feed that regularly.
  • Third, BE BOLD. I sat down with each of my adult kids and had “the talk”. No, not that one, a different one. I explained that, as they got older, our relationship would, and should, change. It was something to look forward to, not dread. I was excited about developing a relationship as adults, but I would also always be Dad. It took longer to sink in with some than with others, but it made a big difference in how we saw each other. Also, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. How’s your spiritual life? What are you reading in the word? You’ll have to find the fine line between being interested and prying, but if you’ve earned the right to speak into their lives as adults (see “BE ENGAGED” above), the rewards are tremendous.

Our relationships with our adult children are naturally different than when they were younger, but that is a wonderful opportunity both for us and our kids. By gradually letting go, working to stay engaged in their lives in ways that are meaningful to them, and being bold enough to ask relevant questions, we can continue to mentor and impact our kids for years to come.

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DadPad: Quotes & Notes – They are listening

March 4, 2010

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.  ~Jean Paul Richter

A number of years ago I wondered if my children heard anything that I had said.  There was a lot of head nodding and seeming understanding.  Yet, responses by action didn’t jive with those words of sage advice I had offered ;).  Than, one day I overheard my son talking to a friend of his.  I don’t recall the detail but he repeated something that I had spoken to him earlier as if he was now the authority.  I smirked to myself and learned that they are listening even when it doesn’t appear to be so.  Then, a brief moment of anxiety fell over me.  How many times had I said something that was less than sage, maybe even damaging, that I had prayed they WOULDN’T hear?

Truth is that I have spoken both words of encouragement and wisdom as well as words that hurt.  At the end of the day, that experience made me weigh my words on both sides to make sure that I didn’t waste any of them.  Because, they are listening.

What experiences have you had where you learned that you’re kids heard you loud and clear; those spoken in good times and those spoken out of anger and you wished you had back?

It’s About Time to Talk

May 28, 2009

Ssshhh!Around our house we have “no talk” rules. “Don’t talk to me through the bathroom door,” my wife says. “Don’t talk to me when I first get up,” says Josh, my middle son. Recently, when my eldest son Ryan was having some intestinal pain, he warned, “Don’t talk to me when you see me come out of the bathroom.”

 

Whew. It can be hard to keep track of when it’s okay to say a word, edgewise or otherwise. Me? You can talk to me anytime. Except when I’m focussed on a project—forget it, I may not even hear you. Except when I’m agitated—best not, unless, in the words of Monty Python, you’ve purchased the five-minute argument. And definitely not when I’m exhausted—especially if it’s to ask me to do or remember something.

 

The Bible has it right, “There is a time for everything… a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7). Some “no talk” rules are a good application of biblical truth. Timing can be everything. “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Some “no talk” rules, however, are the result of shame, stemming from abuse or compulsion. If you grew up in a shame-based family, you know firsthand how difficult it can be to think correctly about the distinction between privacy and secrecy. It can be a daily challenge to break the chain and invite honest communication within our homes about sensitive subjects.

 

Regardless of your family situation, it’s worth considering if it’s “time to speak.” Are you harboring resentment toward your spouse or child? Are you aware of their anger about something toward you? If so, find an appropriate time to give them “apples of gold in a setting of silver.” It’ll make the moments of silence truly golden.

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The Pick-a-Pushover-Parent Plot

April 22, 2009

When I was in my early teens, I joined my first club; the Columbia Record Club. How could any kid resist their offer, a gazillion records for a buck? And each month for the next three years they’d send another long-play hi-fidelity album to evaluate risk-free. Wow! I was in heaven. As a teen, I was a man of certain means. I had the offer. I had ingenuity. And I had a buck.

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Timing (and place) Is Everything

March 30, 2009

I picked my daughter, Amy, up from school one day last week and stopped off at Chick-fil-a. We were both hungry, but I also had a couple issues I wanted to discuss.

She was a little surprised by my questions, but our discussion went very well. As we were wrapping up, she asked me if our talk was the reason we’d stopped for something to eat. I said it was and thanked her for not being defensive. (more…)

I’m Listening…Really!

March 17, 2009

A couple of months ago while home from college, my daughter and I spent a lunch together on one of our periodic dates. It was a great time to catch up with her and live in her world for a few hours. I have missed hearing the regular details of her life during her freshman year. You know, the personal details that spill out over dinner or in car rides to church. Our conversation ebbed and flowed. Then, during one of those pregnant pauses that mark every good conversation, I snatched the opportunity to buzz-kill a light discussion.  I thought all dads did that ;).  I never miss the opportunity to “teach” a life lesson, much to the chagrin of my children. “So, honey, as you look back on our days together as a family, are there things that I’ve done as a dad that you wish I hadn’t done or would have done differently or would change now?” Door opened. And she entered. (more…)

Dad…Don’t say it!

January 31, 2009

The door between our garage and mud room opened.  Our daughter was home. My wife and I were planted on the sofa when the door opened. But, this was not a typical return home. “I had an accident” were the words she blurted out in rapid fire succession accompanied by high volume and many tears. I’m not always quick on the uptake but I did dad_daughter_hug_smallthat it wasn’t likely a serious accident since she had not been escorted into our home by an officer.

The words began to form over my tongue. They quickly spilled forward into the cavity of my mouth and were being arranged for a volcanic spewing. “AN ACCIDENT”…”WHY CAN’T YOU BE MORE CAREFUL”…”YOU WON’T BE DRIVING UNTIL YOU’RE 25”. They were forming easily and furiously. Then, a wonder of God took place. The Spirit of the Lord gave me a peace and nearly audible instruction to wait before speaking. James 1:19-20 flooded my mind and I became “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (more…)