Finances. Drugs. Relationships. These can be tough issues to discuss with your children, but you can’t afford to neglect them. Here are some principles to guide you in keeping the lines of communication open:
· Create an open environment. Let your children know that you are available to listen whenever they have questions or just want to talk.
· Give your undivided attention. Drop everything to listen when your child approaches you, no matter what you’re doing. One-on-one attention will show that you take children’s concerns seriously.
· Be proactive with important or sensitive topics. Don’t just wait for kids to come to you. Talk about your own expectations and concerns so children know you’re thinking about these topics. Children need to hear from their parents.
· Respect their intelligence. Don’t condescend or go into long speeches that begin, “When I was your age …” Seek to understand their point of view so you can address topics and questions that they need help with.
· Talk often. Don’t expect a one-time explanation or lecture to answer all their questions. Ask kids about their daily lives, and make important topics part of an ongoing conversation.
· Be authentic. Answer kids’ questions as honestly as you can. Most children can spot doublespeak a mile away, and any attempt to mislead them will shut down future communication.