You can learn a lot from your kids’ report cards. Letter grades may not tell the whole story behind your child’s education, but they do give a sense of where your children are struggling in school and where they’re doing well.
Years ago, I started using the same idea to help me better connect with my two boys. Every few months, I’d ask, “How well do you feel I listen to you when you have a problem to share? Give me a letter grade.” Then we’d have a conversation about why they ranked me the way they did and how I could better hear what was important to them.
That strategy works for me because my daily responsibilities keep me moving fast. With so many plates spinning, I don’t always know if I’m really hearing my boys in ways that they find helpful. It works so well, in fact, I often ask how they feel about other areas of my parenting, like how much time I’m spending with them, or how clearly they feel I communicate.
There are many other ways to develop meaningful conversation with your children. Teenagers are not always able to articulate what they’re feeling inside. The goal of good parental communication is to learn about your children – to hear them – not simply to lecture or convey your opinion. That requires asking self-reflective questions:
- Am I listening to learn? Or am I listening to correct?
- Am I listening to appease them? Or am I fully present and engaged and taking their comments seriously?
- Am I looking beyond their words and hearing their hearts?
- How can I draw my teen out and learn to listen better?
These are important questions to answer because your children are being inundated by a world of opinionated voices. There’s a lot of noise to break through, but you can be more than just a voice in their lives. You can be the voice. When your child’s heart is connected to yours, you have influence.
We’ll share how on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Parenting the Heart of Your Teen” with our guest Connie Albers, a popular speaker and author of the book Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy.
I’d like to offer you a copy of Connie’s book, on which our conversation was based, for a gift of any amount. When you help Focus on the Family today, your donation will be doubled for twice the impact in helping others through this ministry. Our thanks to generous donors who’ve made that possible. Visit our website for more information.