Last night I was at Tracy’s and her son had done something not appropriate. He came in from school and said just tell me the consequence don’t lecture me. I had to chuckle about that one.
So often we lecture a lot. When we do our children aren’t listen. They tune out and tune back in at the end.
What is communication? What is the goal? It is understanding EACH OTHER! Most of us go into it with wanting them to understand me. I want you to get where I am and what I’m feeling.
This is one of my hobbies, to listen to how often they turn the conversation around to themselves.
Example: How many of you have gone into Relief Society and Sister Jones comes up to you and says, “How as your labor?” You start out by saying this was the worst one I’ve had. She says, “You know with my…..” Pretty soon the conversation is turned clear around to them.
Instead of listening with real intent to understand we throw in our own experience with the guise of sharing our experiences.
Example: Mom Johnny got his tongue pierced today. You immediately jump in and say, “You are not getting your tongue pierced.”
He immediately shut down.
Class member: They really do shut down. I just crush them.
When your husband comes home and he says, “How was your day?” It was a disaster, but you say it was fine. You want them to dig. You just need that little sign that says I really do care about what you are throwing out. That required listening to them which gets out of ‘self’.
“What Women Really Want”
Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him, but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So the monarch offered him freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer; if, after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.
The question: What do women really want?
Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and, to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.
He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everybody: the princess, the prostitutes, the priests, the wise men, the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch--only she would know the answer.
The price would be high; the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.
The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no alternative but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer his question, but he'd have to accept her price first: The old witch wanted to marry Gawain, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!
Young Arthur was horrified: She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises ... etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature. He refused to force his friend to marry her and have to endure such a burden.
Gawain, upon learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He told him that nothing was too big a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table. Hence, their wedding was proclaimed, and the witch answered Arthur's question thus:
What a woman really wants is to be in charge of her own life.
Everyone instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared. And so it was. The neighboring monarch granted Arthur total freedom.
What a wedding Gawain and the witch had! Arthur was torn between relief and anguish. Gawain was proper as always, gentle and courteous. The old witch put her worst manners on display, and generally made everyone very uncomfortable.
The honeymoon hour approached. Gawain, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But what a sight awaited him! The most beautiful woman he'd ever seen lay before him! The astounded Gawain asked what had happened. The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she'd appeared as a witch, she would henceforth be her horrible, deformed self half the time, and the other half, she would be her beautiful maiden self. Which would he want her to be during the day, and which during the night?
What a cruel question! Gawain pondered his predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his home, an old witch? Or would he prefer having by day a hideous witch, but by night a beautiful woman with whom to enjoy many intimate moments?
Noble Gawain replied that he would let her choose for herself.
Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time, because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.
We need to learn the difference between talking at and talking with someone. it has to do with being unselfish
Thomas Monson stated: "The ability to communicate is not something we are born with. We have to learn it and earn it." (New Era, Feb 1969 p. 2)
During the dating process you share everything. After 5 years of marriage you tend to start talking about things…logistics, scheduling, Cub Scouts, Activity Days…but you stop talking about dreams and goals and feelings. The reason you do is because someone stopped listening to you. You start to open up they turn it around and talk about their experience and you don’t share it any more. You will find that someone will start to share something. You give them the lecture, advice, but then say, ‘Now tell me what you were saying?” You shut the door on that communication. It becomes very difficult for them to feel safe. Over time they don’t feel safe at all.
Little people tend to be more open. We haven’t shut them down so many times yet. They don’t have problems talking yet. You have older children and younger children. Little people start sharing and the older one has a joke or a put down on the little one. They are having their feelings hurt. The younger ones have their feelings hurt and they withdraw. The sarcasm and put downs are deadly. Some of your teenagers already feel like they are really cute and in the world you are good if you have quick sharp unkind wit. They need to understand that they can be humorous, but not at someone else’s expense.
I have a son who has a fabulous sense of humor, but never at anyone’s expense. It is possible to develop it, but they have to be taught when it’s appropriate. They can’t use sarcasm and put downs.
Class member: I have a personal experience with what you are talking about. I tended to go that route myself. I was very funny, but it wasn’t so funny to some of the people I was friends with. It was real sarcastic quick and funny. We were on our way to temple pageant practice, but he said that hurt my feelings. It shocked me. It changed and really made a big impact on me. I changed the way I approached being funny.
Little people they can use put down form a 5 year old to a 3 year old if you are not careful about it. You have to be careful about what you are saying. We have to be careful about the humor we say. The first thing needs to be an absolute…”NO NAME CALLING!” Not in humor, not in jest. Even though the child says, “It doesn’t bother me.”
We had a son that gave himself a nickname. He called himself a ‘scrawny man’. It stuck with him while he was growing up even though he way outgrew his older brothers. He became the big athlete, but they called him the scrawny man that late. You must watch it very carefully. Sometimes those things are still hurtful on a deep level.
Class member: One day I was talking to my Mom and I called myself an idiot. She said you aren’t supposed to talk about my children that way.
In your children and your marriage….
1. Women talk about feelings. Sometimes they are drama queens.
2. Your boys talk about things. If you can get your boys to talk to you about things that is good. If you talk to them about a lot of things….football, who plays what position….if you will talk to them about it, then when they do have some heavy emotion they feel safe. It’s good to talk about things with your boys.
To improve family communication…is you have to do it. That sounds ridiculous. You have to make time for your family to communicate. You have to have time to communicate. Which means…no cell phones, no Ipads, no Ipods, no electronics…for a period of time so conversation can happen. If it doesn’t we aren’t used to talking to teach other. You can’t dictate communication, but you have to be open to experiences.
Dock your devices. No electronics…after 7pm. Communication isn’t just that we are sitting on the couch looking at each other. You need to be involved in doing something that is not electronic. Set up a volleyball net. Go for a walk.
I was talking to my daughter-in-law over there. She was frustrated with her siblings. I don’t even like to get together with them because they are all sitting there all plugged into their phones. They are talking about all their friends with people on Facebook. It’s all around Facebook and the phones and text messaging and my daughter-in-law doesn’t have a phone. Do you see what happens when all our communication becomes electronic. We stop building relationships.
If you want to prepare your sons and daughters to be missionaries. Take away the media. They need to learn how to use it and use it appropriately. They need to learn when to use it and when not to. We need to create an environment where communication can take place and then create opportunities for those things to happen. We have to create opportunities to talk. We need to have talk time with your spouse.
“All of a sudden his son got up to walk out of the room on him. The Dad said, ‘Son why don’t you ever listen to me.’ For the first time he said, ‘why don’t you ever listen to me’.”
Sometimes we are doing all the talking, but we aren’t listening to them.
How do we create a listening environment?
Class member: Question jar on the table. We do that during dinner.
Bed time…great ‘talk time’. To ask them a questions. What was the best ting that happened during the day and what was the hardest thing that happened during the day. It needs to be safe to say good and bad things. If you have talk time at night. You may not correct teach or moralize. They need to feel absolutely safe.
Creating questions….put one question under plate each night.
If you could be an animal what would you be?
If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
That person answers your question.
What kind of an animal would you like to be? Which kind of bird? What kind? What color would you be? Where would you live? How did you learn about them?
You keep asking questions. You don’t answer. It shows that you care.
Then you get your children to practice asking the questions. The child wants to share. This is where you break it down and help them understand that they are focused on one child.
Do you get in the car and one child says, “Look at my paper.” The other one fights for it. This is how you teach them how to care about other people. I have to look at her. I have to pay attention. I have to keep my focus on what she is saying. What she says will feed me my next question. If you listen you will always come up with a question.
I love to talk to different people about their opinions. I won’t fight. I love to ask them questions and drawn them out.
Class member: I read an article about questioning. So many times we ask ‘How was your day?’ She would ask What was your favorite part of your day? Find more specific question.
Ask questions that can’t be answered in one word. We need to learn to ask the questions.
· How do you feel about….
· What is your understanding of….
· What do you believe is the meaning of….
You will get better responses.
Tracy who has a son who was very closed…he doesn’t care about anyone else…self focused. With him if Tracy is trying to help him learn to be a good spouse she needs to teach him…by example. I have to teach him how to get out of himself. He is willing to share 9 paragraphs, but she has to teach him to be focused out. She would talk to him and then she would say, “Ok…now you need to ask me how your day was.” She would say, “I’m so glad you asked.” Then he needed to ask her 2-3 more questions.
This is part of role-playing. They need to do the behavior. You help them filter and we take turns. You go to him and say show me your paper. Now she has to say it back another way.
Class member: I have a red 12 year old boy who is all about me. He is a talker. He tells on everyone else. What kind of animal would you be? He would say, “Why would you want to be a bird. A bird is stupid.” How do you counteract that? I say please be respectful of others opinions. You come up with the questions and ask them.
Start the whole process with a FHE…start questions and listen in a FHE. After you have done that. It’s appropriate to say…’was that appropriate?’ We need to have some little thing that says we need to use (non-verbal) that is not appropriate…pull your ear, flick your nose…
Class member: My daughter is 13 and working on being a peace maker. She wanted to pick my two year old daughter. She picked her 10 year old sister. She made some comment. I said “PP”. She caught that was Personal Progress. For FHE we have 3 questions…Happy, Sad, or Changes. That’s been an easy 3 questions.
At dinner time have CTR moments. They share a good choice they made that day.
They are learning to communicate. They are used to not talking in a positive way. We have to create the situation where they feel safe.
Class member: You give them a signal at the table. I can imagine my 10 year old won’t really care. We have been doing the 3 nice things when they tattle or put down. Do it at that moment.
They need to know up front so they don’t feel like you are descending on just them.
Class member: My 10 year old is starting to push the limits of a teen. I know it’s his friend at school that is teaching him the sarcasm. I say, “Now stop. Does that make her feel good? Bad? Angry? How does that make her feel?” You broke it so now we have to fix it. I walk him through the whole thought process. It’s also teaching him compassion as well.
Let them diffuse and not lose face if they are in a power struggle, but ALWAYS come back.
FHE Idea---pop some popcorn. Ask someone who would like some. Have them come up. I will give it to you. Open your mouth. Generically they won’t get it. So move a little closer. Closer. Get a whole handful and throw it at them. Their chances of receiving much is slim. I’m just trying to throw ideas at you. That person isn’t receiving them. We are just throwing ideas. Would you like some popcorn? Have some in a bag. Would you like to take it yourself or would you like me to feed it to you? This is what happens when we use direct questions and they can feed it to themselves. When they are involved in that process they want more and more. It works better with older kids.
12 Commandments of Being A Good Communicator
1. Focus on trying to understand what is being said. You can listen 5x faster than I can talk and your children can talk. Your brain can process it faster. While I am talking to you today everyone of you have been thinking other thoughts. All of you have been thinking something else. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t focused here. It’s talking about the capacity of your brain to process. Is it thinking of a come back, a reponse, or what they are saying? Develop a habit of focusing on what they are saying.
2. As you are communicating with someone you can find more meaning that they can say in words. How they are standing, rolling their eyes, etc. Watch their whole demeanor.
3. Do not interrupt. Yellows have a hard time with that.
Class member: What if they are complaining or tattling? If that is all they every really talk to you about.
Answer: Create a situation to where they can talk about other things.
4. Put aside your personal views and opinions for the moment while you are listening to them.
5. Control your own impatience!
6. Don’t prepare your answer while they are speaking.
7. Show interest and alertness. This is done by looking at them and nodding your head. That means I’m with you. You focus on them. You pay attention.
8. Ask questions that show interest or clarify what they are saying, but some people ask questions to entrap you.
9. Don’t quibbling about words. Don’t argue over words, but look for meaning. Never. Always. I must not have said that clearly…”Let me restate that. I mean… Now do you understand what I mean?” You are training them to be marriage partners…good or bad.
10. Look for areas of agreement not disagreement and build on them.
11. After someone has given you a lot…shared with you some insight or feelings…sum up your understanding of what they have said. Don’t give mirrored answers. Ask it in a different way. Change the words. Example: “I am mad.” “I can see that you are frustrated.” People feel validated when you express back what they said. Especially with teens, “Tell them that you really want to understand.” Ask them to help you understand.
12. Avoid answering emotionally. Our immediate answer tends to be emotionally packed.
Class member: When your child is coming to you and they are talking about something and you don’t agree with it and they do it to get a rise out of you? She is 4 and I told her you aren’t getting these. I just want to ignore her.
You have a 4 year old and you want her to be an adult. You are still allowing her to go to the friends how and when she comes back and you say, “What did you do?” Do you want her to lie? You want her to tell the truth, but you know that is what she will be playing with. I don’t like it so you shouldn’t like it. She is answering your question. That makes you mad. If you really don’t like it then have the friend come to your house.
“Feed My Sheep” by Richard P. Lindsay May 1994 Ensign
I grew up in rural Salt Lake County when it was an economic necessity to care for a variety of barnyard animals. My favorite animals were sheep—prompted perhaps by the fact that sheep do not require being milked twice a day, seven days a week.
I wanted our own sons to have the blessing of being shepherds to such farm animals. Our older sons were each provided with a ewe to teach them the responsibility of caring for these sheep and the lambs that would hopefully follow.
Our second son, newly turned six years of age, called me excitedly at my office one cold March morning on the phone and said, “Daddy, guess what? Esther [Esther was his mother ewe]—Esther has just had two baby lambs. Please come home and help me take care of them.” I instructed Gordon to watch the lambs carefully and make sure they received the mother’s milk and they would be fine. I was interrupted by a second phone call later in the morning with the same little voice on the other end saying, “Daddy, these lambs aren’t doing very well. They haven’t been able to get milk from the mother, and they are very cold. Please come home.”
My response likely reflected some of the distress I felt by being distracted from my busy work schedule. I responded, “Gordon, the lambs will be all right. You just watch them, and when Daddy comes home we will make sure they get mother’s milk and everything will be fine.” Again, later in the afternoon I received a third, more urgent call. Now the voice on the other end was pleading. “Daddy, you’ve got to come home now. Those lambs are lying down, and one of them looks very cold.” Despite work pressures, I now felt some real concern and tried to reassure the six-year-old owner of the mother sheep by saying, “Gordon, bring the lambs into the house. Rub them with a gunnysack to make them warm. When Daddy comes home in a little while, we will milk the mother, feed the lambs, and they will be fine.”
Two hours later I drove into the driveway of our home and was met by a boy with tear-stained eyes, carrying a dead lamb in his arms. His grief was overwhelming. Now I tried to make amends by quickly milking the mother sheep and trying to force the milk from a bottle down the throat of the now weak, surviving lamb. At this point, Gordon walked out of the room and came back with a hopeful look in his eyes. He said, “Daddy, I’ve prayed that we will be able to save this lamb, and I feel it will be all right.”
The sad note to this story, brethren, is that within a few minutes the second lamb was dead. Then with a look that I will remember forever, this little six-year-old boy who had lost both of his lambs looked up into his father’s face and with tears running down his cheeks said, “Daddy, if you had come home when I first called you, we could have saved them both.”