Parents ask us often, “how do I get my older kids to talk about life with me?” Today, we are answering this question by diving into the older kid’s heads, hearts, and perspectives. Parents, we believe your kids want to talk to you. A phrase we say at lot at CCF is, “If you listen to them when they are five, they will talk to you when they are fifteen.”
Here is a sweet story from our second oldest daughter Madeline to show you what we mean.
Madeline and Larry are currently potty training Truett their 2 ½ year old son. Madeline walked into his room one afternoon and smelled poop. Truett was supposed to have a diaper on, but she soon realized it was not where it should be (and neither was the poop). She could tell by his countenance he felt shame about pooping in his bed. Madeline pursued him and had a parenting “win!” She asked him, “How’s it going, buddy? What’s going on?” He said, “I pooped.” She didn’t yell at him, act disgusted, or worse act disappointed. She said, “That’s okay Truett.” Even at 2, she is bridging the gap between him and her by allowing him to mess up and have a safe place to process. When our kids mess up, we get to unearth the guilt or shamenot create it!
Remember parents,deep down your children want to talk to you at every age! God designed it this way. God desires for you to be the bridgebetween your kids and God.
When parents say, “My kids don’t want to talk to me,” we look to identify barriers causing the disconnect.Here are barriers we face, as parents, when it comes to helping our older kids open up and share about life:
In John 10:10, Jesus describes the first barrier bysaying, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus us shows us the powers at play. The enemy only comes to steal, kill and destroy. He is the father of lies. As parents, we are invited to stop and identify where the enemy is at work. Connection with our kids is often being tampered with by the enemy.
Bottom Line: We have the power (in Jesus’ name) to recognize the lie and stop it.
How Do We Counteract?
Use the powerful truths of God and declare them over your relationships.
Ex. Believe you and your child are fearfully and wonderfully made. This truth comes from Psalm 139: 14,“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Say it over yourself and remind your kids as often as needed.
Ex. Encourage your kids to see how honor goes a long way! We use the verse from Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Your kids don’t want a bad relationship with you. Often times they simply don’t know how to cultivate a healthy one. When we recognize the enemy at play, we are able to speak truth and stop the lies!
Another barrier is the world.The world often tries to control your child’s thoughts and actions through social media, culture, peers, and even education. These influences are not inherently bad, but often used by the enemy to cause a question of trust between parents and kids.
The world can alsobe under the enemy dominion. The enemy is the prince of this world and he uses influences of the world to pull kids away from parents.
Bottom Line: The world will try to convince your kids you are not the safest place to share their hearts.
Here Are Declarations to Build Trust:
I am handpicked by God to be the #1 person of influence in your life
I have been in your life since the beginning and I know you best
Let’s dream together so you can see I’m your biggest fan
Speak this over your kids and watch how they receive it. Pray they start to really believe it!
We encourage you to remind your kids with this, “We were hand-picked by God to be the #1 influence if your life! God did not pick us by accident, He has a plan and we are all in this together.”
The last barrier is wounds. We have all pushed our kids away with anger or frustration and create wounds. If you didn’t listen to your kids when they were five, they may not listen to you now. It is hard to hear, but it is the reality of broken relational lines in a family.
Kids receive wounds from times we are not safe. Even the very best parents have moments of anger, frustration, impatience, and inattentiveness. Sadly, our children are hurt by our responses.
Let’s be clear, parents do not intend to wound their kids. It is a part of being an imperfect parent. Many of our kids have told us of times we have wounded them. It is hard to hear but something we are grateful for now. Don’t worry, there is so much hope! In His kindness, Jesus tells us exactly how to handle these wounds.
It Starts With Reconciliation
Reconciliation is the most powerful thing you can do to heal the wounds of your kids. Jesus modeled this for us perfectly. Remember, we are God’s kids first. We receive mercy and grace from God so we can pour it out on our kids.
In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you (wound), leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
Here is How Reconciliation Can Work:
with no “and,” “if,” or “buts”
Ask them to share how they feel or felt about the situation
Ask Jesus to heal the wounds and replace the wounds
Invite them tosee life from your perspective
Bottom Line: Understanding why they are not talking to you will be the key to getting them to talk!
Chances are each of these things have broken the line of relationship and communication with your older child. So, try multiple things to rebuild the line.
As you gain insight into why they may not be talking to you, you become better equipped to address those issues.
To end this podcast we share absolutely #ONE thing we HAVE to do to as parents to open the door so our kids will talk to us.
Listen is a great word. Everyone wants to be heard. The more important word in this phrase is safely. Often times, as a parent, we are not listening and simply thinking of what we will say next. This creates an unsafe space for your kids. We encourage you to stop this way of listening.
Pointers on How to Listen Safely:
Let them talk (don’t interrupt)
Ask open, curious questions (not to fact find)
Be available when they are available
Surrender anger or frustrationto God
Thank them for sharing
Don’t judge and don’t lecture
Affirm them once they share
Tell them you think they are smart, brave, kind! Whatever they need and don’t hold back!
This is a Crazy (Cool) Phenomenon: The Less We Talk the More They Will!
Right now, your older kids are trying to figure out life for themselves. Sometimes, this includes doing dumb stuff and having negative consequences. Our uninvited opinions shut down conversations because let’s face it, us parents know everything (eye roll), right?
At the end of the day, requested wisdom is much sweeter than lectures, judgment, and unwanted advice.
The way your kids will walk away respecting you is by ending the conversation with approval and affirmation. When they share, they are desperate for affirmation. They will look for a reason to come back and talk to you if you lavish them with love and approval.
Let’s Wrap Up
We know all relationships are on a spectrum. Some are going great and others are struggling. We want to wrap up by speaking to both ends of the relational spectrum.
If you are struggling, remember it takes time but the breakthrough will come! Don’t give up. Listen to this podcast with your spouse and apply some of these practicals to break down barriers. You can do it and it is so worth it!
If your relationships are going well, take it to the next level! Apply some of the things we shared and see your child’s response. Do they open up? Are they a little confused? Keep trying and see what kind of culture you can create.
We believe you can have a great relationship with any of your kids at any age!
If you have a question or a parenting issue that you’d like us to discuss in a future podcast, email us at [email protected].