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High conflict couples may try to keep denigrating comments out of the kids’ earshot, but angry words can travel through walls and doors before the children have fallen off to sleep at night.
“You’re going to remember your first sexual experience for the rest of your life,” a wise mother said to her teenage daughter, “so think carefully before you make a decision that can end up haunting you forever.”
It’s a culture of engagement many parents try to foster, hoping to hear about a youngster’s school day or their time spent with friends or just their latest daydreams. It’s contact we seek, a sense of connection — and we rely on questions as a way of drawing them out. But for them, we’ve morphed at those moments into an annoying Questioner-in-Chief, putting them on some witness stand where they feel vulnerable and over-exposed. That’s when they shut down or turn away.
You’re probably accustomed to helping your kids whenever you can — giving advice, solving problems, coming to their aid. In fact, we live in an era of the over-helping parent, whether our kids’ challenges are big or small. Perhaps it’s because we just want them to be happy, and when they come to us looking glum or tearful, complaining about something gone wrong, we do whatever it takes to restore a smile and help them feel that all is well again.
Imagine sitting quietly in a room for ten minutes, doing nothing but being still. Could you — or your kids — handle it? Or would you, if given the option, self-administer electric shocks as a preferred alternative?
It’s an undeniable fact of family life: siblings bicker. Some studies suggest that young sibling conflict occurs an average of eight times per hour. It can drive a parent crazy!
Our kids regularly face situations that provoke strong emotion: the first day of school, playing in a big game, giving an oral report, attending the prom. At those times, it’s not uncommon for them to feel unsettled and ill at ease. They might say they’re feeling anxious. We’ve been there; we know what they’re talking about.
Can your kids easily accept criticism? Can they receive feedback calmly and with an open mind, or do they get touchy and defensive? How good are you at receiving criticism?