I tend to forget that short and sweet works best for my children. They want to run out of room after I hit the 5 word mark. They don’t mind telling me everything about their lives and want me to hang on their every word- but when it comes to my voice, they tune out very quickly.
I grew up in an environment where we talked a lot around the kitchen table, on car rides, in the morning when we woke up and often before we went to bed. My mother and father gave my brother and I ample opportunity to keep them informed about our hobbies, our interests, our friends and our education. When I needed to learn a lesson, I was aware of one fact: I knew it wasn’t going to be a one minute conversation. I would have to think about what happened. I would have to hear my parents side. I needed to learn right from wrong.
With so many different sources of information coming at all sides, the younger generation tunes out so quickly that I know I have to be clear, concise and accurate. I have to ask my children what they heard me say, and clarify if they’ve misinterpreted the words. Often they may not know the precise meaning of a word- they would rather yes or okay you to death than to really take the time to make sure they know what you are talking about. I should value the days when they are willing to handle longer conversations- but for the most part I have to accept where they are at.
A lot of times after a 6 hour day of school, where they spent more time listening than talking, the last thing they want to face at home is more of the same. They want to relax, let loose a little bit and take the stress away from their lives. I need to change up my perspective, and realize that I can be an awesome dad and also have fun with them.
It’s not easy. I’ll need reminders. Compact, precise sentences work wonders. It’s almost as if I’ll be speaking in commands- while watching the tone and non-verbal mannerisms I convey with the words. My wife is very accurate in knowing that if I expect my girls to listen to me- I need to come from a position of strength rather than a feeling of weakness. I can’t be afraid to say no- or stand my ground when I really believe in something.
I’m aware of the push and pull nature as pre-teens and teenagers rise up to adulthood. They want what they want, and they want it now. They don’t understand that for many things in life, you have to wait. You may not be mature enough. You may not have the finances. You may not have the skill set. As parents we will have to not only set limits, but enter conversations as to why people make certain decisions that they have to make.
It’s why I believe parenting is the toughest job humans endure in their lifetime. You are shaping and molding future generations- so don’t take this responsibility lightly. Your impact is astounding.