The ability to dispense information through technology has skyrocketed. We can find knowledge and get it out there so quickly. Sometimes it’s mistakenly labeled as communication. Real communication as technology increases real communication decreases. We don’t interact with people face to face and learn to read body language and eyes. This is one of the biggest problems we have with our missionaries. They do not know how to communicate. They sit across the room from someone and text them.
We have to create a school for communication. We have to teach how to communicate in our home.
President Monson said, “We are not born with the ability to communicate. Communication not verbalization is learned. It’s learned over time and it’s hard.”
Many of us don’t learn it.
Elder W Eugene Hansen 1998 Ensign April “Children and the Family”
“So crucial in strengthening families is the realization that strong family relationships don’t just happen. It takes time. It takes commitment, it takes prayer, and it takes work.”
Too many of us buy into the ‘selfie’ mentality. As adults we are still focused on self. We tend to impose Satan’s plan in helping them learn what we want them to do. We want them to have no feelings. They are quiet when we want them to be quiet. It doesn’t work that way. We have to teach them how to think. They have to be able to express a thought that may not be ours. They have to learn it is safe to be themselves. Our goal is that we need to teach them how to learn to get out of self. We teach that by us getting out of self. We can only role model it. This is not out there. You have to become the role model if you want to prepare them both for missions and for marriage. This is one of the greatest tools we can teach our children and prepare them.
There are basic emotional needs that every child needs to have.
1. Sense of belonging
2. What they have to contribute is important.
3. Individuality respected.
How do we make ‘belonging’ not happen?
Class member: I’m making sure that I’m discipling the child I pull them aside so they don’t feel like the black sheet.
Treating them as the ‘masses’…”come on kids”. When we tell them that their ideas are not right.
If you have a child that is scared and we say ‘there is nothing to be scared of’. You have discredited their fear.
When you are talking at or to them it tells them that their words are not important.
Good communication doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say. You parent! They have the right to express a different opinion without being judged or criticized for it.
The teenager says I want this and the Mom that says I want that. Both are talking, but neither stop to understand. You feel like if you get the person to change their mind then you have communicated. You don’t get to give in, but they understand that their feelings have heard.
You listen to your teenagers and listen and listen, then say, ‘Nevertheless I don’t feel good about that.’
How many of you after 10 years feel like your spouse doesn’t listen to you. They are talking things and you are talking feelings. You don’t feel like there is understanding. If we learned how to communicate the feeling would be back.
Communication is more than talking it’s understanding, listening, lifting and it’s similar to a contract that come together to bring blessings to both.
We can listen 5x faster than someone can speak. Your brain has such capacity that as we are talking in this class you can think what are you having for dinner, when am I picking up the kids, did I get my visiting teaching done.
Class member: I always get in trouble because I think I know what they are going to say.
What we tend to do with that extra time is format our rebuttal or comments or lecture. You have to know that your brain works that way and it’s normal. You also have to know that when you are in a conversation you need to control that. Take that brain power time and focus on what is that person saying. What is body language telling me?
Have you ever had this experience….they are on their phone or watching TV and you say you are not listening, but they repeat back everything you say.
When we try to mentally multitask
Robert D. Hales “Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation”
“For our interactions with youth to truly touch their hearts, we have to pay attention to them just as we would pay attention to a trusted adult colleague or close friend. Most important is asking them questions, letting them talk, and then being willing to listen—yes, listen and listen some more—even hearken with spiritual ears! Several years ago I was reading the newspaper when one of my young grandsons snuggled up to me. As I read, I was delighted to hear his sweet voice chattering on in the background. Imagine my surprise when, a few moments later, he pushed himself between me and the paper. Taking my face in his hands and pressing his nose up to mine, he asked, “Grandpa! Are you in there?”
You need to ask questions to find out the understanding of what they are talking about. This is what understanding is. I hear your words. I understand the intent of your heart. You give me and then I give you understanding and listening. That’s why it’s a contract. Both are involved in it.
When we did ‘Taking Time to Teach’ we talked about how to create an environment. Those have to be in place. The home needs to have that environment of safety. It is created mostly by the mother and the father as they make it safe.
1. Stop other things you are doing.
2. Listen with your eyes.
3. Close physical contact
4. Summarize and ask for clarification
5. Don’t judge.
6. Let the experience go unresolved.
Read the 12 Commandments of Communication (in the syllabus—pg 4). This is part of creating the environment and making it safe.
5 Keys to Good Communication:
1. Don’t assume you know what they are talking about.
Example: There was a husband and wife in counseling, but they just had a really hard time. They just couldn’t communicate. The wife says give me an example. The wife says “The other day we were driving along and I said, I’m really hot.” It was summer and he just sat there. The counselor turned to the husband and he said, “I heard that she was hot.” To the wife he said, “I thought he should turn on the air conditioner.”
When we say something we don’t always say what I mean.
Example: Wife said, “I am really thirsty.” The husband said, “I heard she was really thirsty and so I put on the gas to get her home because we were only 3 blocks from home.” The wife said, “There was a 7-eleven and I wanted a drink.”
Doctor: "Well, Mrs. Olsen, we've talked about your high blood pressure and your medications. Are you experiencing any paticular stress in your life?"
Patient: "Oh, yes! It's the Sunbeams. They're driving me crazy.."
Doctor: (very surprised) "The sunbeams..."
Patient: "Yes. I've never had trouble with them before, but this group won't sit still. They bounce all over the room, and run out the door and down the hall."
Doctor: (Reaching for his pen) "Have you told anyone about this?"
Patient: "Of course. I told the president."
Doctor: "Really! What did the president say?"
Patient: "He said Sunbeams are like that and just to have patience."
Doctor: (Concerned that he may be missing something) "I know people who are sensitive to sunbeams. Do they cause a rash or anything?"
Patient: (Confused) "A rash? No."
Doctor: "What's the biggest problem they're creating?"
Patient: "It's the noise. They just won't quit talking."
Doctor: (Astonished) "The sunbeams are talking to you?"
Patient: "Well, yes. But mostly to each other."
Doctor: (Scribbling furiously in the chart) "I see. Can anyone else hear them talking?"
Patient: (After a moment of stunned silence) "You're not LDS, are you?"
How do we treat our children how to work? We assume they know how to do it. Some of them don’t.
Example: Class member comment from several years ago….
I wanted to share that actually happened a couple of weeks ago after several nights of difficult bedtime hours. I lay down by a couple of my girls that had contributed to the difficulties and said to them, "Tell me what your perfect bedtime would look like." They really weren't sure and didn't have much to say so I said, "Well for me this is what I would love bedtime to look like..." and I started earlier in the day with everyone doing their chores so we could go to bed and wake up in a nice clean house, then everyone would get ready for bed quickly so I had time to lay by each one of them and read them a book... and so on" in a fairy tale sort of way.
The next day I'd kind of forgotten about it but at bedtime when I went to lay by one of the ones I'd talked to the night before she said, "So how did you like bedtime tonight? Did we do a good job?" Oh it was awesome too! I think they had just been doing what came naturally without realizing that there was a better way until we talked about it and I was able to give them a new vision of how it could be. There you go, communication does it again!
Ask questions back ALWAYS!!!
HOMEWORK: Read this article….The Marriage Miracle Few Will Try
2. You think you know what is right.
We do this with adults. Someone brings up the topic of going to Europe next week. You say, “Oh man I went on a trip last year to Europe and we did this and this and this.” We think if we are talking we are communicating. Once I have validated them, sought information, and found out their emotional level then you can share what you have to say.
HOMEWORK: Read…President Uchtdorf “Lord Is It I?”
Class member: This was an eye opener last year. I kept thinking he must not be understanding so I just kept telling him. So I have used, “How does that make you feel?” He will tell me the things he is uncomfortable about. That has opened up a communication line with someone I have struggled with. I am not getting how he is understood. I have learned to ask those questions and learned to listen.
They tell you facts, but you need to figure out their feelings. What are the feelings behind the stories?
3. You have to learn to listen.
We tend to listen on levels. This is in the syllabus.
- Mimic—you repeat back exactly what they say. “I am really frustrated.” “Oh, you are really frustrated?” It shows that you are hearing words, but there is no understanding in it.
- Attentive Listening—Like when they were going to Europe. I listen until I can divert the conversation to my experience. I’m listening, from my personal frame of reference.
- Selective Listening—listen long enough to figure out which lecture series to give. You are expounding all of your wisdom. He who talks benefits the most.
- Empathetic listening—you hear the words. You are focused. Your brain is focused on is this a good thing, bad thing, are you nervous. You watch body language. We try to understand feelings. It’s a deeper level than just hearing words. You have to be intentionally listen. You have to be invested in this…totally out.
“Mom I quit trying to get them to understand my Spanish. Instead I’m focused on understanding them. Once I did that Spanish is coming really easy now.” Missionary son without anyone to speak English to.
Listen on the empathy level and then ask questions before you give any answers or say anything about it. You have to ask a minimum of 3 questions. These are not ‘yes/no’ questions.
How do you feel about that?
What was your understanding of that?
What do you believe the meaning of that is? (great to ask in scripture time)
Why do you think they did that?
Class member: This makes me think about “Teaching In the Savior’s Way.
The Savior will always show us the way, but we just don’t plug it.
Example: Johnny got his tongue pierced. You say, “You aren’t going to do that. We don’t do that in our family.” Instead say, “What do you think about that?”
Always ask questions first.
We need to have unstructured “Happy Talk”. You still ask questions. You need to have conversations with them that aren’t teaching. Sometimes it’s easier to create an area or experience. Go out and shoot hoops with them. Go on a walk. Do an activity with them. Talk Happy Talk. It can be really good for Dad and son to watch a ball game together. We need to be careful if Mom/Dad are too intense.
Table time. Car time. Good happy times to talk.
Example: (Comment from class posted on the blog from previous years) “My brother had my family for Christmas and gave us each our own bowl with a message from him inside. My girls have loved these and they are used nearly everyday. About two weeks ago I grabbed them out of the cupboard and decided to use them as a communication tool at dinner time. I excitedly told my girls we were going to play a little game. I think we were having soup or chili... Something that concealed the name of whom each bowl belonged to. I told them they had to pick a bowl and when they could see who the bowl belonged to then they had to say 3 positive things about that person. If they happen to pick their own bowl then they had to say 3 things about Aunt Dana. It opened up our talk time at dinner in a different way. The next night the same rules applied except you couldn't do a repeat from the previous night... And instead of Aunt Dana we picked another aunt. It's made an impact on our communication in a positive way. I didn't realize how important it was for my girls till last night when we were about to have dinner and my girls were very disappointed when I didn't pull out the bowls. We played our game anyway and I love hearing what they each have to say.”
Daughters of God Elder M. Russell Ballard
“The joy of motherhood comes in moments. Author Anna Quindlen reminds us not to rush past the fleeting moments. She said: “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” (Loud and Clear , 10–11).”
Example: Mom listened to son who talked about himself all the time. She would then stop him and say, “Now ask me how my day was.”
You have to model that behavior.
Class member: I’m not great at asking questions. Instead of having them go first, model that and tell them about your day first.
How was recess? What did you do at recess? What classes did you have today? Did you have PE today?
Class member: I was noticing that I don’t know my kids as well as I should. I ask them the same 4 questions. What was the best part of your day? What was the worst part of your day? What was your biggest challenge? Who did you serve? My son cuddled with me, but only if he talked about the details of your day. At the end of the day it’s a better time for them talk.
Pray to know how to improve your communication. Pray to know, “Is it I?” Pray to know the hearts of your children. Pray to know how to ask good questions. Pray to know if there is a child that really needs you especially if communication hasn’t been safe. Pray to know how to express love to your spouse in a more expressive way.
1. Answer this question….I can strengthen my ability to communicate by…..What are you going to focus on this week? Where is your first starting place?
2. Begin the practice of asking 3 questions.
3. Read…President Uchtdorf “Lord Is It I?”
4. Read Article…The Marriage Miracle Few Will Try
May 1994 Richard P. Lindsay “Feed My Sheep”
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.”
Your children are calling. Are you listening to them