Good communication is one of the most important things you can have in your home. It creates a feeling of peace, harmony, and safety. I was reading a book this week that I needed to share with you. Elder Neal A Maxwell’s “All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience” has a chapter about communication that is so profound to being a parent! He says that a “true Christian is a communicator”. When you think about our perfect example, Christ was a perfect communicator. We can learn a lot from His example.
Have you ever felt like your life is in neutral? Like your relationships have plateaued? Elder Maxwell talks about being in a “pleasant plateau of performance” giving our best to the outside world and just making due in “neutral” with our family and loved ones. How do we get off that nice plateau? He suggests 3 areas to work on…Counsel, correction, and commendation. I really feel like these will help in parenting as well.
Commendation is giving deserved, specific praise. I think this is a hard one because we are so focused on mistakes and the bad things that other’s do. But this one has so much potential to make a difference in our loved one’s lives. It is hard to focus on the good things people do. Often, the “good” kids get less attention and may even wonder if they are truly appreciated. They shouldn’t have to wonder how you feel about them! Tell your kids what you admire about them. Be specific. Show gratitude for anything-big or small. This helps us be more selfless as we focus on others-not ourselves. Remember to avoid artificiality, or give undeserved praise, give it too soon, or be too general about praise. Here’s my post on being a gracious receiver.
Be careful not to label or judge someone a certain way. I saw this a lot when I was teaching by kids or other teachers. Sometimes those labels stay for a lifetime. This is one way we can follow the Savior more. See people the way He does. Seeing other’s a certain way definitely affects the way we treat them…for good or bad. I know I did this with one of my kids, labeling her “shy”. I now realize there is so much more to it.
Correction has so much potential if done with love and using gentle reproof. Discipline can be a great learning experience for us. Keep your anger in check and discipline when moved upon by the spirit. Discipline should teach a lesson or have a purpose. We are trying to help our kids be the best they can be and to learn to follow rules and expectations.
Sometimes we are the ones that need correction. Elder Maxwell says, “Our self-esteem is stretched only as we are stretched” and “True humility is believing in and exploring our own possibilities”. Sometimes the Lord gives us correction to help us be better, and to push us to learn and grow. Put your pride aside and listen to this correction when it is given. It will change your life! Sometimes “love is tough” but if you are courageous and listen, much good will come from it.
Learn from the mistakes of others so you don’t have to make the same mistakes. Share your mistakes with your kids so they can learn from you. As Elder Maxwell says, “Opening the windows of the soul helps us build healthy relationships.” Try to make course corrections ASAP and you will see that “your mistakes will be minimal”. Corrections are seldom welcome but the sooner you repent or fix your mistakes, the less repercussions you will have. Don’t let time further damage a relationship. Elder Maxwell counsels, “Genuine communication requires resilience in each of us.” “Bounce back, take advantage of a new day, in spite of our blunders and failures of a previous day.” Make each day a little better and change even if it is hard.
Counsel your loved ones. Help them to be the best they can be. You can mentor your children to be their best selves. Help them see the vision and the consequences of their actions and listen to them. Elder Maxwell said, “Counsel is more apt to be received after listening has occurred”. Don’t let your ego get in the way. I struggle to accept other’s advice until later on. I replay the conversation in my mind and seem to grasp it better as I ponder what was said. I’m learning to listen. It is a slow process but I am trying to climb off my plateau.
“If your lips can keep from slips,
Five things observe with care:
To whom you speak; of whom you speak;
And how, and when, and where,”William Edward Norris
Be vigilant and pay attention to what you say. You don’t want your words to be twisted or misunderstood. I’m learning to speak clearly, directly, and especially make eye contact when I am talking to my kids. On the flip side, I need to make sure that when I am listening to them, I listen clearly, directly, and make eye contact when my kids are talking to me. They are more important than any other tasks currently on my list.
Elder Maxwell sums it up. “Effective communication provides much of the material out of which rich relationships are made.” Things can be worked out with love. Keep at it. Let your loved ones know how much you really love them by your words and actions. You will start to see a difference in your relationships as you try to follow the Savior’s example and communicate with them as He would.