Last week I stated:
Frequency of communication can vary with every family and every season.
Instead of focusing on HOW OFTEN
WHAT should I communicate with my adult children?
And just as I was about to press “PUBLISH”
I got this text:
Am I ever gonna hear your voice again? It has been 40 forevers!
Back to the drawing board.
Rule #1 in dealing with adult children:
Just as you figure it out
the rules will change.
When they were teens asking lots of questions and ‘checking in’ were being nosey and irritating–now they want us to check in and ask questions.
What is the trick to keeping up with what my adult kids need to communicate with me?
This appears to be so simple and it is anything but easy.
It seems that somewhere between high school graduation and reentry into your home as a self-reliant adult our children learn a different language. We have to PROBE for real answers to their questions and we have to learn question for meaning.
John Maxwell teaches the LADDER of listening. How do you rate yourself when you are speaking with your adult children?
LOOK at the person speaking
My kids know they do not have my full attention when I am looking at my phone. How about you?
ASK questions to clarify their message
Recently upon hearing some about a problem from the daughter in the picture above I said, “Oh, I see you need my help with that?” My daughter was, “No, there isn’t anything you can do. I just wanted you to know.” OH!! Good thing I asked!
Do NOT interrupt
Nothing says disrespect like trying to finish a sentence for someone else.
Do NOT change the subject
I am terrible about this! My son was trying to tell me about an experience he had while he was in the Marines on Iwo Jima. Since my Dad has served there, this was an emotional topic and I knew I was going to end up crying. I tried to say something to move the conversation to Scott’s time in the service or ANYTHING ELSE. Then, it struck me that this was an emotional moment for HIM too. I stopped, looked him in the eye and listened with all my heart—as all four of our eyes filled with tears.
Emotions: Check you EMOTIONS at the door when listening
The story of listening to my son WAS an emotion we could both share. Anger is NOT an emotion you want to share with your adult child. If they are infuriating you simply say, “Give me a moment. I need to check my emotions on this.” Be the adult. Do not become angry—it is a choice.
RESPOND when listening!
At the end of the conversation try to respond with a positive action (if needed) or at least words of encouragement in the particular situation. When one of my daughters was thinking of going back to school to get her midwifery degree she talked it out with her dad and I. It reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with my own Dad when I wanted to start a new venture. It was one of the few times in my life my Dad did not encourage me. Although I thought Rachelle was biting off more than she could chew with the new degree, her two jobs and six kids, I knew it was her calling. Encouraging her, I promised to edit her papers while she was in school. And yesterday she took me up on it!
Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give your adult children.
What thoughts do you have on listening well? Please comment below.