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Marriage Help Articles

Four Tips for Communicating with Your Kids

At a time when you and your spouse are dealing with marriage issues, it is often difficult to parent your children with the same patience and understanding as you do when your marriage isn’t struggling.  The stress of working towards resolving marriage conflict can be overwhelming, leaving little emotional room for handling the ups and downs of dealing with children.  Keep in mind that effective communication is key to having a good relationship with both your spouse and your children. You need to start talking and stop putting off important conversations that could be the start of building a stronger family.

For many of us, it can seem a little daunting to have a meaningful conversation with our children. There are many reasons for this, but there is no need to worry; you and your kids love each other, and that’s a place to start when attempting any kind of relationship help. Try these four tips for conversation with your kids on a daily basis.

Make time

It is easy to get caught up in the tasks of everyday life. Work, school, and other activities tend to dominate most of our time, but we can always set aside time for the things we believe to be important. Set aside time and take your child out for ice cream or even a one-on-one special night. You’ll find that you both appreciate the attention, and that the conversation will start to flow. And remember: if you have more than one child, spending time with the children is not the same as spending time with the child. Each of your children needs daily one-on-one time with you.

Ask open questions

Kids can sometimes construe genuine interest as invasive or being overly protective. While you have their best interest at heart, remember to allow your child some breathing room while talking. Ask questions about school and friends, and then go where your child takes the conversation. It might lead somewhere interesting for both of you.

Use humor wisely

Diffusing a tense situation with a joke is sometimes a good idea, but not always. Gauge your conversation and use humor where appropriate. Don’t be afraid to keep things light when needed, but remember to pay attention to your child’s reactions and body language. Although some of their problems may seem trivial or easily fixed, don’t let your reactions keep them from telling you what’s really going on in their lives. Never joke about, make light of or trivialize their fears, no matter how insignificant or ill-founded you may think they are.

Listen heart to heart

It is so easy to listen and respond only to your children’s words and not to their feelings. It is also easy to listen in judgment, instantly ready to “correct” your children’s perspective or tell them why they should not feel the way they do, why they should behave differently, or why they are wrong. And it is easy to give your children measured “clock time” and not open-ended “heart time.” In the midst of your hectic schedule, your long lists of things to do, your own unmet emotional or physical needs, and even your marriage problems, make your interactions with your children “off the clock.” Actively listen with patience. Most importantly, listen heart to heart. Be there! Again, listen to your child’s heart! Feel with your child, from your child’s perspective. You may even find as you practice listening heart to heart with your children that can use this skill with your spouse to avert a marriage crisis.

Every child is different and what may work with one doesn’t always work with another.  Remember to focus on the uniqueness of each child as you keep the doors of communication open. It is just as important as working on saving your marriage.  Keep in mind that your child is greatly affected by what’s going on between you and your spouse.  If you are having problems with your children, consider getting help from professional family counseling services.  Many organizations have programs designed to help children and couples deal with issues arising from marriage problems. In any case, do not neglect to seek help.