Actionable Ways Parents Can Improve Communication with Their Children

Actionable Ways Parents Can Improve Communication with Their Children

While communicating with your child may seem difficult, it is the most important thing you can do to help them stay away from substance abuse and other addictions.


As a parent, we want nothing more than to protect our children from the dangers of the world around them.

To do this, it is important to keep the lines of communication between you and your child open at all times. Many parents find that as their children get older, they become more distant and independent. They make friends and prefer to spend time with them than with their parents.

While independence is an important step in growing up, it is still important to practice good communication skills with your child to help them cope with things that they see and hear throughout their lives.

1. Watch What They Watch

Be honest: how often do you sit down and watch the television shows and movies your children are watching? Entertainment media is full of messages about drugs, alcohol, sex, or violence. Some are more overt in the display of these messages earning them a stricter rating than those who hide the messages within the storyline. If your children are watching television or a movie, join them.

Watch what they are watching and ask questions either during commercials or at the end of the film. Find out why they like the movie, what their favorite part was, who their favorite character is, or just what they thought of the overall message. By opening a discussion, you are giving your child an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.

This doesn't just have to be with entertainment media. If you watch the news in your home, your child is likely seeing all of the things that are happening around the world. These stories can affect them without them even being fully aware. If a particular story has caught your child's attention, ask them about it. Ask what they think about what happened or how the story made them feel.

These conversations will give you insight into how your child feels about certain events as well as how they would handle it if they were in a similar situation. Remember that no matter what their answer, you should never express anger toward them. If their answer is one you don't feel comfortable with, take that time to address any issues in a calm and collected manner. Keep in mind, they are still developing their view of the world and need your guidance in making the correct choices.

2. Encourage Honesty

We all know that old saying that honesty is the best policy.

That is especially true with kids, but can be incredibly hard on parents. Imagine if your child told you they did something like steal, what would your reaction be? Would you get upset? Would you punish them? Most likely, every parent reading this is saying yes in one way or another. What if punishing them could actually lead to the end of your healthy communication skills?

Most children and teenagers are afraid to tell their parents when they have done something wrong. It is usually more because they don't want to disappoint you than the fear of punishment.

One of the best ways to keep the lines of communication open with your child as they get older is to talk them through what they are telling you and react in a calm and collected manner. Discuss the potential consequences of their actions with them rather than yelling or grounding them. By allowing these open discussions, your child will be more likely to come to you with issues in the future.

This doesn't mean condoning the behavior. You will still need to correct the behavior or activity that your child is involved in but, you want to make sure they know you are not punishing them for telling you. You are disciplining them for doing what they did. Commend them for being honest and help them get back on the right path.

3. Listen, Listen, Listen

As parents, we always want to jump into action when our children tell us things. Sometimes, the best approach is to sit and listen as they talk about whatever it is they need to get off their chest. Rather than jumping to their rescue or to discipline them, help them talk it through until they come up with a better solution than they originally considered.

Many children are faced with peer pressure everywhere they turn, which can cause plenty of stress and anxiety. This pressure can lead to the use of drugs or alcohol as well as viewing pornography or participating in sexual acts at far too young an age.

By giving your child the ability to come to you with these issues and having you help them determine the right course of action for themselves, you are helping them to fully learn the difference between right and wrong and how to stay on the right path.

If your child is struggling with a situation that they are unable to get out of on their own, offer them the help they need. Many young adults fall into the traps of addiction to pornography or even sex and drugs at a young age. These are situations that may require your guidance to get them the help or counseling that they need.

4. Ask Meaningful Questions

In many cases, it is not uncommon for the communication between you and your child to have deteriorated slightly as they have aged. The teenage phase can be hard on both the child and the parent. However, to protect your child, it is important to work to rebuild those lines of communication. There are a number of ways of improving family communication from following your child cues to asking questions in a specific manner.

When your child comes home from school, you probably ask if they have homework and how their day was. How often do you get a one or two-word answer and they disappear into their room? If you ask open-ended questions, you are more likely to get a meaningful response. Instead of asking "Did you have a good day?", ask "What did you do today?". This type of question gently forces the child to respond with a more detailed answer which will give you more insight into their life.

Pay attention to their cues. Conversational cues will differ slightly by age, but they are mostly consistent. Younger children may start to give silly or goofy answers when they are done with a conversation while older children will begin to zone out. Even though you may have a million more questions you would like to ask, it is important to follow your child's cues and put the conversation on hold until a later date. Forcing a conversation that they are no longer interested in having, will only serve to push them further away.

If your communication with your child has been strained, it is important to start off slowly. You can't go from barely talking to having in-depth conversations about their friends and personal life.

You need to ease into it no matter how hard that may be for you. Start the communication with asking things that may seem silly or unimportant.

For example, you are stuck on what to make for dinner as a side dish. Asking your child what they think would go well with the main course will open that communication channel ever so slightly. It also shows them that you value their opinion.

Communicating with your child may prove to be difficult on occasion but, you should never give up. Strong, healthy communication skills between parent and child can make a difference in the child's life. Strained communication can lead to poor choices, undiagnosed mental health issues and even addictions. Let your child know you care by keeping the communication open between the two of you.

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.

Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

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3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

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30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

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The Publishing of T.S. Eliot's Correspondence: What is Life's Poetry Without Irony?

Volume 8 of Eliot's letters has now been published by Faber & Faber, and the poet who preached the irrelevance of a work's author once again eludes self-limitation.


T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

Often said to be the chief representative of modernist poetry, he is also considered by many to be the most significant poet of the 20th century.

Author of "The Waste Land", "Four Quartets", and "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats", he is both endlessly enjoyed and endlessly debated.

T.S. Eliot, for the sake of his fans and for that of academics with a vested interest in his legacy, now has his life further displayed to the eyes of the world. The massive project of publishing his correspondence has reached its eighth volume, and two more years of his life (1936-1938) are now further open to scrutiny. The supreme irony here is that Eliot, who stipulated in his will that there never be a biography written of him, would not have thought very kindly of the idea of prying into his personal life in order to interpret his poetry.

In fact, he preached an entire theory of poetry opposed to such an idea.

In his 1919 essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent", he argues at length that, when judging the value of a work of poetry, the work's authorship is totally irrelevant. The reader should value the work in and of itself. Thus we arrive at a purer form of encountering art, one supposes; this was a solemn creed for the modernists. The reader of Joyce's "Ulysses" or Eliot's own "The Waste Land" either becomes comfortable with the paradox of not understanding as itself a form of understanding or rejects the work as something as far as possible from "Art" as it can possibly be. This is a form of experiencing art that places the experience at the forefront. Art is not meant to mean anything; rather, it is meant to be experienced, or, rather, the experience of it is its meaning. The text is what is important, and discussing the history behind it or the context of its creation is useless, weighing the reader down. Let the poet empty himself entirely of self, Eliot urges in his essay, and let the poetry be poetry.

Eliot was an imperfect man, but one flaw that he definitely lacked was stupidity. How could a man famous the world over seriously request that no biography be written of him; how could he stand so firmly and purely for an artistic posture as to propose that it be translated into a code of conduct? The answer, I suspect, is a beautiful one, and one just as complex as his best poetry.

When Eliot converted from (agnostic) Unitarianism in 1927 to the Church of England and set himself on the path of spending the rest of his life as a committed Anglo-Catholic, he completely scandalized his literary circle. Not only did such people as Virginia Woolf consider it offensive for someone to go in for organized religion, it seemed totally incomprehensible that someone like Eliot, who so eloquently demonstrated the beauty of artistic iconoclasm, would go in for what seemed to be the very essence of an aesthetically useless, dying, old world order. Eliot, however, never considered his conversion to be a break; rather, he simply thought of it as development. "Ash-Wednesday" is certainly not written in the same style as "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". That they have themes in common is undeniable.

The Unitarianism that Eliot inherited from his family was not at all concerned with the Incarnation of Christ; Anglo-Catholicism, however, was obsessed with it. There is no personality behind divinity in the former; in the latter, it is essential that the creator be accessible through the creation. The distance between the work and the author is emphasized in the former, while the proximity is stressed in the latter. There is nobody behind the poem in the theory articulated in "Tradition and the Individual Talent". In Anglo-Catholic theology, the world revolves around the presence of the Body behind the work.

Orthodox Christianity rejoices in paradox; thus, Christ's self-emptying (kenosis) in becoming Man is a complete unclothing from the state of divine exaltation, even as the state of divinity is simultaneously retained. If the author of a work is a god and the work is his creation, then the theory of poetry Eliot encourages us to hold is analogous to agnosticism or atheism. Yet Eliot believed in a type of Christianity as far from agnosticism as possible, refusing to ignore the presence of God and the saints. Eliot's play "Murder in the Cathedral" portrays martyred archbishop Thomas Becket as a man who empties himself of self, yet he is a man whose name is after death immortalized by those who venerate him, while the physical remains of his earthly existence become objects of devotion. Eliot preached anonymity, yet the world is hardly going to forget him any time soon. Eliot might have outwardly wished that his name be forgotten and his poetry remembered, but he may have inwardly wished that he be both forgotten and remembered at one and the same time, that his name remain forever caught up in the glorious paradox that is itself really the essence of poetry. We can, I venture, make good use of our opportunity to pry into Eliot's life, even while recognizing that he would have protested, even while recognizing that such prying is fully connected to a side of his art that is totally indispensable.

We can, in a word, be totally atheistic believers in his art, recognizing that only in such a way can we recognize the greatness of poetry capacious enough to go beyond itself even while remaining itself and nothing else.

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