Oct 172014 1 Response

This Is When to Talk to Your Kids

Few questions in life are as difficult as knowing when to speak and when to keep silent.

We all know there is a time to speak and a time to listen. We also know there is a time that even if we aren’t listening, we should at least be quiet.

Yet when should we do which? That is always a difficult question.

It’s even more difficult in the realm of parenting.

Conversation is an important aspect of parenting. It’s the main “how” of parenting. You can’t parent if you don’t communicate. My assumption is that the greatest needs of most parents is the need to improve their communication skills. To communicate better is to parent better.

Yet no matter a person’s communication ability, knowing when to speak and when not to speak is the most difficult of questions.

While I do not have a perfect answer to that question, there is one tendency which I have seen in all parents—especially myself.

The circumstances which make me most likely to speak are the same circumstances which make my children most likely not to listen.

I’m at the driving range with my son. We are there to kill some time, enjoy the outdoors, and see if he is interested in a sport I love. I hope he is, but I work hard to put no pressure upon him to like it.

As we are hitting balls, what is the most likely time for me to speak? Of course it is when he is doing something wrong. Whether he is disobeying me by not following the driving range rules or if he is struggling with his swing, both situations tempt me to speak.

And in the first scenario I have to speak. The rules of the driving range are in place for his safety and the enjoyment of others. When he violates those rules, I must correct him.

However, the second situation doesn’t demand my attention. But it creates a desire within me which is very difficult to ignore.

I am most tempted to speak to my kids whenever they have done wrong or are struggling to succeed. In times of failure or frustration, I speak to them. The longing for this action is born from good intent. I love my children and I want to help them. I want them to do better, be better, and experience more. This desire creates a tremendous urge within me to speak to them whenever I see something I can fix.

Yet at the moment in which I most desire to speak, I likely most need to be quiet.


It makes sense to speak in these moments:

  • the issue is top of mind
  • I recognize something which can help
  • to remain silent risks them continuing the wrong action

There are many reasons why I should speak in these moments, but there is one reason I should be quiet—whenever a child is struggling, they are least likely to listen.

Do you sometimes wonder why parenting is frustrating? Imagine this combination—at the moment I’m most likely to speak, my child is least likely to listen.

Of course there are times in which it doesn’t matter if they are going to listen or not, I’m speaking. But most often, whenever I speak, I’m likely just speaking to the wind.

Parents would often be better served to speak to their children when their children are succeeding, happy, and quick to listen rather than trying to force attention when they are upset. Remember what you want to communicate and communicate it at another time.

This is when you talk to your kids—when they are ready to listen.

It is less frustrating and more fruitful for all parties involved.

There are times in which I will communicate to my children no matter how they feel in the moment. Yet most of the time I should put them before me and communicate at the most effective moment when they will listen.


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