Laying the Communication Foundation

Being a “girl mom” is awesome, and I couldn’t be more crazy about my daughters. I have enjoyed every stage of raising them. Some stages have been a little more challenging than others, (hello terrible 3’s!) but overall being the momma to these girls is the best. I also know that I have plenty ahead of me yet as a parent, and I will be learning and making lots of mistakes as they go into new phases of their lives. 

When I was first blessed with these two little girly peanuts, one of the things I knew I desperately wanted to do was cultivate healthy communication. I want my girls to know that they can come to us, as their parents, with any question or any concern that they may encounter in life. My husband and I decided early on that we wanted to be the first source of the knowledge for many of the important life topics they will come up against. We feel it is important for them to get their information from us first so they don’t get caught off guard and feel uninformed when they are exposed to certain things elsewhere. 

Because of this, we started having casual conversations about things whether it was drinking and drugs, dating, relationships, etc. at a pretty early age. Obviously, we kept everything age appropriate, but as we began doing this we could tell that not only did it lay a groundwork for having more relaxed and engaged conversations as time went on, but we could see that they felt empowered. This empowerment builds trust. 

The other thing that has been so helpful, is being receptive to those times when your child wants to talk. And they may not always be the most convenient times for you, but it’s so worth sucking it up, putting that phone down, and being present in that moment. 

One of my daughters loves to talk at night before bed. We have gotten in the routine of spending time together before prayers and turning off the light. This is the time that we often have great talks. It’s not necessarily every night, but even if I’m crazy tired and it feels like I’m about to fall over, I try my hardest to tune into if she has something she wants to say. And when I do this, I am never disappointed. It’s always the sweetest time, and I love it. 

I’ve also learned to hold my tongue when they are talking. My natural reaction, being an ex-teacher, only child, control-freak, is to jump in with a solution or what I think they should do. It’s SO hard to not do this, and I’ve learned my lesson when I’ve failed to keep my mouth shut. Instead, I’m learning to listen, and then listen some more. After they’re done sharing, I repeat back to them what I feel I’m hearing to make sure I understand what they’ve said. 

Lastly, I ask them if they WANT my advice. THIS IS THE KEY! There are times when they really don’t, (shocker parents!) and that’s okay! This may be one of those times when your child just needs a listening ear and someone to tell them that what they’re feeling is normal. 

Then there may be situations when they do want some advice. Yippee!! I love when that happens. But here’s another trick I’ve learned. Not only give them your thoughts on how to solve the problem, but share a story that you’ve experienced as a child that might relate. I can’t tell you how effective it has been when I share my past experiences with my girls. 

My prayer is that I will always have a great and open relationship with my daughters. I pray a section of Proverbs 31 every morning and decree that “my (her) children will rise and call her blessed…”. That is my heart. I’m sure that there will be struggles in our communication as they get older and go through their teen years, and please don’t get me wrong. I know I don’t have this whole thing figured out and will continue to make mistakes. But I’m hoping that by setting the standard for that open door policy now, it will help us navigate through the future more smoothly.

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