Communication is the process, which opens up a channel of love, understanding and union between people. When it is lacking, no amount of money, education or material goods can bridge the gap that is created.
Few of us have enough time, inner peace and energy to communicate deeply with our children. We need to spend more time talking with children rather than at or down to them. Children, like adults, want to feel connected to others. They want to feel connected to their parents and teachers and others who are models in their lives. They want to be able to express how they feel, what they are thinking about, their fears, their joys, their questions about life, their ideas and creative inventions and discoveries. They want to know that someone cares, that someone recognizes them, that someone is interested in hearing about them, appreciates them and respects them.
They, too, want to know what their parents and others are feeling, and thinking. This friendship is one of our children’s most important needs. We can become our children’s friends.
Children want to know why. Why the world is like it is? Why they are expected to do certain tasks? Why thy must not engage in certain activities? Why parents feel and act in the way that they do? When we say to our children, “No, you may not do that because I said so”, we are insulting their intelligence. We are saying that they are stupid, unable and unworthy of any explanation on that matter. “Just do what I tell you. You do not need to know why I do not want you to do that”. We usually resort to such demeaning behavior when we are not sure of themselves, or have not clearly examined our motives and feelings, or simply have the need to play power games to boost our own sense of self-affirmation. It is absolutely essential to explain the factors and thoughts which bring us to our decisions. Then they will understand what is going on in us and simultaneously feel that at least they are respected enough to deserve an explanation, even if they do not agree with it.
When we do not discuss with them, they turn inward and conclude that trying to communicate with us is futile. They begin to lie and hide the truth about their life style. In such a case, the bridge of communication is destroyed and consequently the only tool for resolving family problems is lost. The same happens when we continually reject whatever they say or do. They stop communicating.
In order for us to be able to express our inner thoughts and feelings to their children, we will have to know them. That means we will have to do a certain amount of self-analysis so as to discover our beliefs and programmings. We may, in the process, find that many of our conflicts with our children are based on our own problems, which we are projecting onto them. Some examples might be:
1. Our own need for approval from society through our children’s success or behavior.
2. Our own need for a position of power over the child.
3. Our own fears and insecurities.
4. Our lack of self-confidence which causes us to lack faith in the child.
5. Our fear of the opinion of others.
6. Our anxieties about other problems in our lives, i.e., work, money worries and problems with our own parents.
7. Our own tired or disturbed nervous system.
These and many other personal problems may cause us to communicate abruptly, inconsiderately, and disrespectfully to our children, thus undermining theirs self-image, self-acceptance, self-love and self-confidence.
We would do well to learn the basic communication skills of “I-messages” and “active listening” which are described in other chapters of this book. In general, more effective communication creates an atmosphere of justice and mutual respect, caring and love. We all need this.
TECHNIQUES FOR FACING LIFE
Life is a game. Playing that game is an art and a science. There are techniques for facing life more effectively. Like everything else we teach in schools, we can teach about how to deal with life itself, with its disappointments, its failures, its injustices; with illness, with pain, with the loss of loved ones, with the ever changing events and tests of life.
Life is a school and we can learn much from it, if we know how. Children can be taught how to learn rather than how to memorize often-useless facts. They can learn techniques for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy body, a relaxed nervous system and harmonious endocrine system. They can be taught how to strengthen their immune system. They can be taught how to calm their minds, how to expand the ability to concentrate, remember and analyze. They can be taught how to get in touch with their inner creative potential, so important in science, fine arts and business. How to create loving relationships. How to become useful members of a society.
Are these subjects not more important than all most meaningless facts which children are wasting their minds on memorizing? Do we want to produce sleeping robots or alive, awake, thinking, creative, healthy, happy, useful members of society? We had better make the decision and adjust our curriculum accordingly.
Beyond very practical techniques for harmonizing the body, emotions and mind, schools and parents should make sure that children have the opportunity to be informed about, and discuss, important subjects like relationships, selecting a marriage partner, sex, narcotics, effective communication, love, the nature of man, the purpose of life, what is death, what happens after death, professional guidance, the relationship between the individual and society.
Most individuals in our present society seem to lack preparation or serious thought concerning these subjects which are essential for anyone who wants to have peace of mind or live a meaningful life.
Until such subjects are covered in schools, it is important that parents give their children an opportunity to be informed about and discuss these subjects. If the parents do not feel comfortable about, or informed enough themselves, then they can become so. This will improve greatly the quality of their own lives, and they will have so much more to offer to their children.
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