Think about how many different ways we can communicate with each other. Clothes, jobs, our bodies and of course most obvious of all our language. There are all types of situations where our communication is either enhanced or hindered by our communication, and it’s not words that always get in the way. We can send the wrong signal just by being shy and introverted, or we can do it by being ambitious and elaborate. When it comes to children and shaping the way children react but also the way they communicate we have to be as delicate as a surgeon. This is of course if we are in the best possible environment, which usually is not the case. Most of us are not linguists, nor are we astute studies of the human condition, most of us are simply lay people trying to do the best we can. With that being said, there are so many things that come up while we are in the process of raising our kids that there is no way we can prepare for. A death in the family, a loved one suffering from substance abuse, the birth of a sibling, or even the loss of a job. Lots of times the stressors of life pull our shoulders down, pull our faces down, and renders our ability to effectively communicate almost useless. Now enter a newborn, or a toddler who is absorbing absolutely everything positive and negative. Being mindful isn’t the easiest thing to do when we are faced with external stress, nor with internal stress… However these are the types of things that determine the overall personality of our kids. Communication, therefore, is probably one of the most important things that’s overlooked in times of crisis. It’s completely unreasonable to assume or to try and perpetuate happiness, adversely it is equally unreasonable to assume that the storm clouds will not pass and that the bad times will always be bad. Fathers have a very different way of dealing with joy and sadness. More often than not a father will deal with things that make him sad or afraid with anger. It’s not always easy to reason with a person that will not admit they are upset, or that they are afraid. Communicating these things to our children is not a show of weakness, it is a lesson in how to cope with the fact that we have a wide range of emotions and we need to understand how each emotion works as well as how each emotional situation has its course to follow, it’s very important to communicate that it’s OK to be sad, it’s OK to be afraid because these are opportunities to learn. I know how complicated it is in those moments to be able to think clearly but if we make a concerted effort to keep our communication honest and transparent our children will understand that they have a wide range of emotional options and that all of them are acceptable.
Communicating to kids is extremely important and we must keep in mind that developmentally speaking somethings are just not appropriate to expose children to at a young age. This is mostly to your discretion as your environment determines the emotional level of your kids. Some children are exposed to a lot more than others, and as their parents you are more tuned in to what they can handle than anyone else could be so your discretion is entirely your decision, of course. It’s important to keep the communication open and honest, it’s important to encourage questions and set examples. But I feel like the most important thing is it’s OK to not know the right thing to say also. Parenting throws things at you that there is no template for, but in those times of confusion and finding yourself at a loss for words the best thing to do would be to know what’s available to you in your community and reach out to those places with no fear of embarrassment or judgement… let the fact that most of the people that are service providers have made just as many mistakes that they learn from that they are willing to walk you through the ones you might think you are about to make, i’m sure you’ll find your pleasantly surprised by the warmth on the other end of the phone or the kind demeanor of the person knocking at your door to help you through this situation.