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Parenting Guide Sheets
17. Communicating

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Page 17B
2. Talkers & Listeners
a) Families Talk!
We all talk, and some of us listen.
Some people like to talk a lot and some like to talk a little.
Some people like to listen a lot, and some people never seem to listen!
However, the reality is that relationships are built by communication, which may comprise:
· words of information - “Dinner will be ready soon.”
· words of understanding – “I see that you don't like that.”
· words with feeling – “I think that's wonderful!”
· words that express understanding of feeling – “Oh, how terrible, you must feel awful!”
                          and lots more.
Families that work, will be families that communicate.
A further reality is that your child develops with the use of communication.
It starts as soon as your baby is born. Talk to them and keep on talking to them. They learn from the gentle tone of your voice that your communication is good.
Soon they will start forming their own words, and language will start to be formed in them. A child who is talked to by their parents learns to converse, and a child who learns to converse, learns how to be part of the world outside, and from then on it all takes off.
Families who struggle with education are often families where there has been little communication within the family. Words are the building blocks that help towards creating a more secure future for many.
Children who talk are not merely those who expound their limited views, but are those who ask questions and constantly enlarge their horizons.
Let's accept that not all children will have this intellectual capability, but the capability for most can be enhanced by a growing vocabulary that comes from talking and listening.
b) Talking without Listening?
We've just said, families that work, will be families that communicate, but communication is a two-way thing; it is talking AND listening.
When you're not listened to!

How do you feel when you are trying to share something important that has just happened to you and the person you are with seems distracted, fiddles with their clothes, keeps looking out the window, interrupts you and is clearly not listening? Not good!
When you have a problem, a family burden perhaps, what do you need? You need someone who will just listen to you. You may not be looking for answers from them but just having someone to whom you can unload, and who will listen, pay attention, and show care by being quiet while you talk, THAT is sometimes far more helpful than lots of well-meaning advice.
Please listen to me!
          If we feel that, how much more do you think our children feel it?
Illustration: I don't consider myself very good at social interaction – my wife is far better – but I have three grown up children who I love very much, and so on occasion they may ring up or just turn up and say, “Dad, can I have a word?” Now at family gatherings they are such a bright bunch that the verbal interaction is really ‘hot'. I feel sorry (and bad) for visitors if they are part of one of our family gatherings because of this. The two boys, and now my son-in-law (its tends to be the boys in these situations!) banter backwards and forwards and I've got to a point in life when I'm happy to just sit in the background and enjoy it as a spectator. But if they turn up and ask for my time, it doesn't matter what I'm doing, I'll try to put everything else aside to be with them and listen to them while they unburden themselves. I'll no doubt throw in the odd (hopefully helpful) comment, but most of the time I think the most important thing is to listen to them. They simply need to know there is an understanding ear available, and sometimes nothing more.
On Page 1 we considered the thought that parenting is for life.
Our children need to know that we are there to listen to them when they are:
· babies making their first attempts to communicate,
· toddlers who are starting to form and express ideas,
· younger children who come home from school and want to tell about their successes,
· older children who want to talk about difficulties at school or Club,
· teens who just want to know you listen and understand,
· your child (!!!) about to get married who needs to tell you how he/she appreciated you,
· your son or daughter-in-law who wants to let you know you're about to become a grandparent,
· your son or daughter who now runs a company who needs someone to listen to their fears of a possible insolvency that is likely to be coming,
· your son or daughter whose own marriage is under stress who needs a non-judgmental ear into which to unload their guilt or sense of failure.
These are just a few of the times when parents need to be those who can listen without talking.
Remember, it COSTS to listen.
It costs
· your time and
· your desire to say your side
                             - but it's worth it!

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