5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kid
We get it. Parenting is hard. The hardest. You will forever find new trials where advice fails you. Where you're searching deep inside you for the right answer. And sometimes you don't get there, and you have to then deal with the possibility that you've made a mistake.
And we get that! But from adults not yet parents, we agree that THESE are things that should never come out of your mouth.
1. "I Don't Care."
Trust me, your children listen. They won't believe you had it harder yet all the while being safer than them when you were their age. They won't believe you know best. But! This will be the first (maybe even the ONLY) thing they believe if it comes out of your mouth.
Then you'll be facing the fact that they may not accept your apology. They may never believe that you care ever again.
And then they will stop talking to you about EVERYTHING, from how they feel at the moment to why the socks are in the middle of the floor to what matters most to them in their lives.
Just don't say it.
#2. "I Know What's Best For You."
--or any variation of the phrase. If you feel the need to say it, just stop. Chances are, they are trying to tell you what they feel is best for them RIGHT NOW, and you are talking over them.
It is your job as a parent to listen as equally as you give advice and guidance, not your child's job to just do as they're told.
Listening--and ONLY listening--will enable you to guide in a way your child reaches for rather than pushes away. And let's be honest, you think you know what's best (and chances are you do!), but you could still learn something, and in the process you could reach your kid that much easier. Listen.
Let me know! =)
How many of these did YOUR parents say to you?
#3. "Because I Said So."
You know who sets rules without looking up what rules the society might need? Without listening to what the society might want? Imperial rulers.
These are the rulers who think everyone has a place, and nobody can do anything other than what is assigned to their place, and every place is below them and inconsequential anyway.
You don't want to be that "it doesn't matter to them anyway" parent, do you? Good. So when your kid asks why about something, answer thoughtfully. Let them know if you need more time to give them a good answer. Be honest if you've just never thought about it before!
Another thing you can do is ask for feedback. This is so important in your child learning/knowing that you care about them, what they think, and about how well they are doing.
Who knows? You may even learn a new way of doing something, or learn about an idea that's been running around your kid's head.
And if not, then at the very least, they know and understand that you're willing to take the time for them.
#4. "While You Are Under My Roof."
This is an ultimatum. To anyone, that deserves an "I'm getting out of here!" thought. Because at the end of every ultimatum, there is an "or else." What are the consequences? Probably worse for your kid than you think, whether you have it planned or not.
This is also just another way of saying, "I'm not listening to you. I'm keeping how it was because that's easiest and I'm not willing to learn."
Would you ever be okay with someone speaking to you that way? Of course not. It's designed to make you feel like a crunchy beetle on the bottom of someone's boot. Please don't do this to your kid.
If you're so against what they want, try to figure out why you're so against it, and then talk to them about why they want it so bad. Chances are, they're old enough to explain back, and then you're both closer to coming to a middle ground, or at the very least understanding each other.
#5. "I'm busy; let's talk about this later."
This isn't a "never" say, but more an "only say if" phrase. There are two instances you would want to let yourself say this, and only two:
- You're extremely angry and want to calm down first so as to handle the situation appropriately, sans anger-influenced words.
- You mean it when you say you'll talk about it later. This is a promise, whether you want to think of it that way or not. The kid sees this as a promise. Don't break it.
If you say this phrase because you just don't want to listen at the moment, your child will realize this. If you never make the time to keep this promise to talk about it, you'll lose their trust about EVER dealing with a situation. Worse, they'll see you as one who avoids EVERYTHING! (We all know we hyperbolized our existences as teens.)
Make the time.
R U Listening Presents: How To Listen To Your Teenager
It's Clear! A Summary
The signs are clear: just listen to your kids! We know that it will take more than this. And each kid wants a different thing heard, and each kid decides whether they say something straight out or if they are hesitant and beat around the bush.
But they want to talk! They want you to listen!
- Take the time you need with your kid.
- LISTEN to your kid.
- Avoid ultimatums.
Keep with these basics, and I think you'll be surprised how much more they'll be willing to come to you.
© 2014 Jennifer Kessner