Here is the baseball analogy as promised in the last post. It involves a father, grandfather, son, granddaughter, and four little words.
Not long ago, I was pitching a rubber baseball to my little eight-year-old granddaughter, who really loves playing ball. I have known for some time that she is athletic and has a lot of potential. On this particular evening I noticed that she was holding the bat wrong and I didn’t want her developing bad habits so I tried to help her. This beautiful little girl became frustrated with her grandpa who wasn’t doing a very good job communicating. My son, who was close by, said four words to her, “welcome to my childhood!” Those words cut deep and had a powerful impact on me, prompting me to ponder more deeply about my life as a father and grandfather baseball coach. I realized how important it is for us to be sensitive to the needs of our children and to really listen to what they are trying to tell us. Communication is more than hearing their words; it’s also hearing what they are saying through their actions and non-verbal communication.
PLEASE write and share your experiences with communicating with your children.
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1. If it is a matter of actual (but not immediate) safety or involves an important value you want honored (such as honesty or not harming others) then as the parent you will need to insist that they change. Do this firmly and with love, kindness and respect. “I know he took your stuff and of course you are upset and want to get back at him, and in our family we work things out with our words, not our fists. Let’s all take a few minutes to calm down, and then we can talk about what to do next.” 2. If it does not involve safety or important values make a suggestion that they can choose to follow or not. Respectfully lay out the reasons why you think the change would be good for them, and then ask them for their thoughts and feelings. Summarize in your own words both their ideas and emotions so they know you really heard them. Bring up any new thoughts you might have now. Finally, let them choose. If they have to do it your way, it’s not a choice.