4 Ways Parents Shouldn’t Communicate
I’m presently trying to adjust to being a parent of a college student, a high school senior, a freshman and a third grader. Often it’s like riding a bull that at any moment could throw you off. Like most parents my heart’s desire is to be a perfect parent. Unfortunately, I fall short daily of the man I hope to be. Therefore, for my sake and yours I’m going to list four ways parents shouldn’t communicate to their children. All of which I’ve done and realize the error of my ways.
One, never is it good to act out of anger. I remember my dad saying many times he needed to cool down before he disciplined me. You see, each time I deserved a spanking and my dad had reason to be upset. However, dad knew that his anger would lead him to act way out of character and take things to the extreme. Every time I respond to my children in the heat of my anger I usually only create greater issues. I end up looking like an angry child myself and modeling absolutely no self-control.
Two, never is it good to compare your child with another. I have four boys and each of them are extremely different. I’ve made the mistake of saying you need to do this or that like your brother. Sadly, at that point I’m already creating a perceived favoritism. Most children are very sensitive and absorb way more of our words than we realize. They already live in a society that compares and tears each other apart. Anything we address with our children needs to be personalized and beneficial. Comparing them to anyone only makes them believe they don’t measure up.
Three, never is it good to play tug of war. Too often we go back and forth in heated discussion with our children. When we do it means we’ve chosen to pick up our side of the rope and join in a game of tug of war. Often our children tempt us to negotiate our authority. While what each has to say is important we have to act as the authority figure. We need to draw clear lines, boundaries, and let them know disobedience will not be tolerated. But, we need to not give into the temptation of yelling at each other like we’re siblings. I’ve fallen prey many times to a shouting match with one of my boys. The better approach is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Trying to be your child’s best friend is often not an option. You have to keep yourself composed while making sure your school age child knows you are the parent.
Finally, never is it good to not own your issues. Meaning you should always apologize when you’ve crossed the line. You should acknowledge when you’ve provoked your child to anger. You should admit when you’ve provided a terrible example for them to follow. Just trying to be right at all cost is never a good agenda. No parent is always right and it’s important we admit our human imperfections. I can remember every time my dad said son I’m sorry and I will always love you. Owning your wrongness is just as important as addressing their wrongness. I pray that each of us might apply these truths as we seek to be the best parents only God can make us.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)