SON: “My mom always is yelling at me.”

MOM: “I don’t yell at him. Well, maybe occasionally. But if he listened better then there would be no yelling at all.”


DAUGHTER: “I’m not too close with my dad. He’s at work a lot and we don’t talk much, except when I get in trouble.”

DAD: “I think we’re pretty close.”


Every parent I have ever met wants to have a close relationship with their kids. They don’t start their family with the goal of having distant or damaged relationships. They want their kids to be able to talk to them about anything.

Or so they say.

If you really want your kids to be able to talk to you about anything, then I have a suggestion for you: Become an easy-to-talk-to parent. I always find it rather odd when a difficult-to-talk-to parent complains that their kids don’t want to talk to them. I have seen close parent-child relationships and I have seen damaged ones. The closest ones all have one thing in common: The kids feel very comfortable talking to that parent.

Ask yourself this question: If you were a kid, would you like to talk to you?

If you are a little uneasy with your answer to that question, here are a few ideas that will help you become the kind of parent that your kids WILL want to talk to:

1) Look for opportunities. Jump on chances to talk with your kids about their life and activities. Driving in the car, bedtimes, mealtimes, and one-on-one activities are great times for showing that you care about what is happening in their life.

2) Listen first. When you listen first, you give your child a chance to share her perspective and feelings. This communicates that you really value her perspective and feelings, gets her involved in the discussion, and sets the tone for a productive and caring conversation.

3) Learn to pause. When you insert pauses into a more serious or difficult conversation, it creates a slower, more relaxed pace, which gives everyone time to digest what is being said and helps prevent negative knee-jerk reactions. A pause communicates that you are taking your child seriously and are being thoughtful in formulating your response.

4) Listen to yourself. As you talk to your child, ask yourself, “How do I sound?”; “Am I being respectful?”; “Would I like to talk/listen to me if I were a kid?”; and “Am I making this conversation better or worse, easier or harder?”

You can be the kind of parent that your kids love talking (and listening) to. It all has to do with your communication style. And there is only one person in charge of that.


What ideas have helped you become a better communicator as a parent?

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