Motherhood is not just the relationship between mother and child[ren], but also about the relationship between mother and father. No matter what your official relationship is with each other: friends, dating, married, separated, or divorced, if you’re both in your child’s life you must have a solid plan for communication. One of the worst things you can do for your children is display negative and harmful communication.
Here’s the deal, I’m no angel, nor do I have this communication thing down. But maybe we can all learn something from my experience of what not to do.
- You should never yell. Ever. To anyone really. Okay maybe if you are alone in your car and someone cuts you off, it might be okay to yell from the comfort of your own car. Just make sure they don’t see you yelling because that’s how road rage can become dangerous.
- You should not name call. Your child will call you “meany face” enough in your lifetime, so you don’t need to add to their repertoire of of creative “meany face-like names.”
- You should never mutter things under your breath. Take it from me, this never works. We all know what purpose this serves: it gives us the power to say something outloud that we probably shouldn’t say. That leads us into dangerous territory.
I asked my husband to help me compile this list of “Things Not to Do.” Wouldn’t you know that he refused to answer me when I asked him to name things I do that makes our communication efforts fail. He said this was a “loaded question” and he “would not go into those deep waters.” Whatever that means.
So instead I asked him for ways we could work together to get an A+ in communication. Here is what we came up with together while we were communicating effectively about communicating effectively (see what I did there):
- Take the time to listen to each other. You might be saying, “well duh! That’s a pretty obvious step in communicating.” That’s what I thought too, but when you dig deeper it all begins with listening. A lot of the times we must listen before we speak. I mean really listen. Don’t tune the other person out because you are too busy formulating a response.
- Respond with “I” statements instead of “You” statements. Ex: “I feel frustrated because you didn’t take the trash out when I asked you and now the pantry stinks.” instead of “You never do anything I ask you.” Using “I” statements opens up door for communication instead of low-ball attacks on each other.
- Make your intentions and expectations clear. I don’t believe in mind readers. Maybe you do; in that case I guess you can skip this tip. But my husband definitely can’t read my mind. I know this because he has made it very clear from the beginning. So as much as I would love it if he could read my mind, the fact is still that he can’t. I must be very clear and precise with what I expect. This doesn’t mean I beat him over the head with this information. It simply means that I tell him respectfully.
- Shelve the conversation. If it’s turning into a conflict that seems to have no solution, don’t be afraid to shelve it and come back to it later. If your children are hanging off your legs, begging for dinner, and crying over spilt milk, hit pause on the convo and try again when there is quiet and peace. But if you do this, go on about your day amicably. This isn’t an opportunity to stomp around and pout because your significant other is mad at you. Be comfortable enough to continue on positively until you’re able to rejoin and discuss healthily.
Ready for a truth dump? My husband and I sometimes fail at communicating. Sometimes we do everything wrong and nothing right in the heat of the moment. And sometimes we do go to bed angry. But we always come back to the conversation and try again. We never leave anything unsolved. Usually by the second or third try we will get it right because we are able to put aside our selfish desires and work as a team to solve the issue.
This week I challenge you to talk to the mother/father of your children and come up with a way you you can communicate more effectively. Share it with me or on social media under #MotherhoodMonday if you feel so inclined. I am always up for adding more tools in my proverbial toolbox.
- Lazy Saturdays
- First burger in almost 6 months
- Finding a new show to binge watch