It used to be that you had to have some gray hairs on you before you felt this “rock and a hard place” feeling. But just in case you didn’t know, this is how our typical middle schoolers are living each day. Our young 11-13 year olds are leaving the house feeling pretty “fresh” and then somewhere between math and recess and the bus loop they look like they are hanging on by a thread. This is in the best and worst of neighborhoods. It has less to do with family income, status or zip code than it ever did, even though that seems to matter more than ever. In reality it has to do with what we as moms and dads do to debrief, cleanse and reboot with our tribe everyday.
Earlier in the year I started a Periscope® broadcast called “The Friday Night Family Scope”. My mission was to bring families closer together in a positive way. For many of us the weekends need to be a time of family dialysis. We need to get inside the blood of our kids and remove the toxins. If we don’t go into the shadows and knock on their doors, ask the right questions and find out what they are focused on, we can’t provide help.
But if your kids are anything like mine, you know that you can’t wait for Friday to make this happen. How can we motivate and energize our kids more frequently? How can we get inside their lives and stay in there, especially if they are moving into young adulthood? Can a few minutes a couple of nights a week make a difference? Yes! We are more than chauffeurs, ATMs and short order cooks. We do more than feed and clothe. We do even more than teach and keep them safe. In just a few minutes devoted parents can do pivotal things. We help our children thrive in a scary world. And we gotta jump in and do a little very day.
2 Quick & Easy Tips:
- Listen More Than You Lecture. If you are guilty of this, raise your hand. Come on! Raise it up right at your desk or in your kitchen or at the gym. I know you are out there. Join us. My hand is raised too! One is markedly easy. The other is definitely hard. But if you can get a tween or teen to talk to you, even if what they are saying is making you want to scream at the top of your lungs, try to listen. Yes, sometimes the story seems like a web that is wrapped upon itself and you want to jump in and untangle it. I know…I’ve been there…in fact, I visited that familiar destination earlier today. In the midst though, it hit me that I needed to assign dignity to this young adult that is so much like…well, me! And a lecture wasn’t going to cut it. What about you? Can you use your ears first this week?
- Let Acknowledgement Be Your First Words. I keep thinking that after I speak I love to know that someone was actually listening to me. The same is true for our kids; listening is only half the battle. The other half is letting them know that we heard them. Extract something to show that you acknowledge they have been willing to share. “I know what you mean”, doesn’t carry as much weight as “Man, that sounds awful! I’m sorry that you had to face that.” (Or whatever similar matches your tribe). It’s not easy for our kids to open up. If they do, don’t waste the opportunity. Acknowledge them, their feelings and what they have to say. It’s worth it.
So many of our precious kids are at pressure’s edge. The waves keep coming and they are aren’t dressed for swimming. If we are going to make a difference we are going to have to dive in deep.
The goal of Family Dialysis is to chat about ways to get closer as a family and ensure that parents are the major influencers to a positive future. Let me know what you’d like to see. I’m excited to share with you!
Chatone Morrison ©2017
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