Listening and talking are learned behaviors. How your children will communicate with others and you is something they are learning from you. Are you talking with and listening to them every day? About things that don’t matter, not just peppering them with questions? Is your homework done? Is your room clean? Did you do what I asked you to do?
When they are teens it is UNBELIEVABLY important that your teens trust you to listen when they talk. They need to be able to come to you and talk about both the meaningless and the meaningful.
Start young and create an atmosphere of conversation in your home.
I am 17 years into parenting and my teenagers talk with me. Often and about all topics. The reason they do is because I have been talking, asking and listening to them for years. Talk with your kids, do it often, you will reap the rewards when it matters most.
This week we turn the tables. Sometimes it’s way more fun for kids to listen to your stories than to tell you their own. It also allows them to realize you are human. Imagine that. If you dare, share the following stories with your tweens and teens. You will be pleasantly surprised by the fun interaction. And, if you’re really lucky, maybe, just maybe, they will share a story with you.
1. Tell them when you had your first kiss. (Mine was on top of a dog house with a guy named George. My kids NEVER let me live this one down.) Make it fun or embarrassing. Do not go into detail. Ewwww.
2. Tell them a story about one of the jobs you had when you were younger. (I waited tables for about an hour. I told someone to go get their own coffee. Kids LOVE that one. Clearly I got fired. But honestly? My hands were full.)
3. Show them a photo of what you looked like in high school. Maybe a homecoming or prom photo. You will probably have to wait several minutes for the laughter to die down, but when it does, tell them a story about the photo.
4. Share a story about one time you got in trouble and the punishment you received. Don’t forget the theatrics here. Talk about door slamming and eye rolling or the way you made faces or worse at your parents behind your bedroom door. They will love to hear that you did the same thing to your parents they do to you.
5. Do you have a story about when you first started driving? Did you drive a stick? Because if you did, you MUST have a rolling backwards down a hill story. A good friend of mine got into three accidents her first month. You get the idea. Tell them.
6. Tell them about Atari and video arcades. What was your favorite game and why? Asteroids or Ms. Pacman for me. And in case you are wondering? I could still kick your butt at it.
7. Tell them about three awful fashion staples from your past. (If you have photos, even better.)
8. Ask them what they think you were like as a teenager. Then set the record straight.
9. Were you an athlete, musician or on the debate team, etc.? Tell a competitive or embarrassing story. Whatever you have.
10. Tell them a story their grandparents shared with you from when they were kids. Back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Have fun! You don’t get these years back.