Rick, a father of four, wrote: What about when your learn from your children's friends of a big project that is due that you haven't heard a peep about? It seems like listening without criticizing or correcting isn't the way to go here. Don't we have a responsibility to teach our children (even our teens) responsibility?
I think one way to overcome the "you only criticize" syndrome is to make an intentional effort to ask questions that are not judgmental, but seek to discover what they are really thinking and feeling and how they came to have that opinion. Sometimes all it takes to get an explanation is patiently waiting in silence. I'm always surprised when I manage to do this how often they talk themselves out of their own idea or even change their "tune." (Maybe they were looking for a reaction!) This needs to be our deliberate plan all the time so that when we do have to correct, we haven't been saying little nitpicky things. This is somthing Jim and I fight with, it's easy to see what's wrong and overlook what's right. (Didn't you just notice the misspelled word in that sentence but never thought about all the correctly spelled words I've used?)
|Southern Plantation--One of the School Projects that Came from Our Home|
Ken, a father of three grown daughters said: We would simply bring it up in conversation. “So how is your science project coming along?” Perhaps they did not know that we knew they had a “science project” due. But by simply asking them a question about that they now knew we were aware of it, and it allowed them to respond without feeling that we were somehow attacking them or being over critical of the decision they had made to not let us know. This could be followed up with, “well, let me know if I can help in any way”.
His oldest daughter responded to this thought: It's interesting looking back and seeing your perspective... And I've always thought that you all managed to do what other parents are unable to do... Teach us about individual responsibility and respect and love us for the individual women that we are.
His second daughter said: …funny how the things you say I find myself teaching already to my children. ... now I know why I do it the way I do. I got it from you.
Charlie, the father of two grown daughters said: I think asking questions in a loving, supportive way is a fair method to handle this kind of situation. To open the discussion one might say "One of your friends mentioned that you have a project due at school." , "What have you chosen to work on?", "Is there anything Mom and I can help you with?" Then add a word of encouragement by saying something like "I'm sure you will do good work on your project. Mom and I would love to see it when you have completed it." By asking questions like these we can begin our discussion in a positive way. This can lead to a healthier discussion later about their lack of communication with you.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with us? Do you have more or other ideas? I welcome discussion on this either in the comments below or at my email here. I'll post your ideas and together we'll all learn.