In my last blog post on parenting, I shared one axiom I have lived by as a parent, the 90-10 rule that stressed the benefits of meting out positive over negative comments to children.
In this blog post, I cover another that has made me a better parent — Two-Way Talking, which I developed when my first child entered kindergarten.
One day I realized that every time I picked up Jack from school, I pumped him for information about his day: “Sweetheart, tell me everything that happened to you today!” But I never told him about my day. And he was often too tired to say much, which I found supremely frustrating.
So, after some months of this fruitless sort of exchange, I started our car rides home by telling him in an age-appropriate way about my day. The thoughts often came out like this: “While you were at school today, Mommy saw 24 sick kids and I loved helping them.” Or, “Someone yelled at me at a meeting and it made me sad, so I called your daddy and then I felt better.”
During these short recaps, I tried to share about my job and why I love it, about hard challenges I faced, and how I coped with life. In other words, I told my kids something “real,” and hopefully, imprinted my positive outlook on life.
After awhile, my son started asking me, unprompted, his own questions about my day. “Mommy, how many kids did you see at work today?” Or, “What did you do today, Mommy?” And he started to talk to me more about his day, too.
My idea is that two-way talking started when my kids are younger will create the foundation for harder conversations in their teenage and young adult years. After growing up listening closely to me, and vice versa, I think they are more likely to put some stock in the hard stuff we will need to talk about, like dating, drugs, alcohol and other tough subjects that need our attention as parents.