Conversation vs Confrontation; Check your responses!!

I am sure that we can all agree that effective communication is a key element of any relationship; it can either foster or break the relationship.

This is particularly true in the way that we communicate with our children where it can create either a safe and secure environment for them to build trust and respect or an atmosphere of fear and worry where they would try and figure things out for themselves rather than deal with our responses to them.

To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you must be in their lives today.”

Barbara Johnson.

As far as relationships go, the one we will ever have the most privilege to have is the one we build with our children.

Learning to communicate with our children in a manner that acknowledges their feelings as important, is essential in building what could eventually become a safe and healthy space for a child to trust us the parent(s) enough to share anything. I can honestly say this has been a tricky aspect of parenting for me.

It’s funny that many of us parents practice a one-way type of communication when it comes to our children because, let’s face it, dialoguing with your child can often feel like you’re giving them the opportunity to challenge your authority. Therefore, to make clear who’s boss, when they have done something wrong, we tend to react rather than respond positively because we feel a response can often seem passive and the child may interpret this to be a weakness.

Many times, when I am upset or even angry with my children, my voice is raised, and I just feel completely out of control.

Over time, I am learning to find more appropriate ways to communicate because if I have learnt anything, shouting never corrected that child’s behaviour. They have only heard the raised voice, not the message you are trying to pass across. In some cases, you end up blocking the passage of communication with your child because they are worried that your reaction will be one of anger and disappointment.

Don’t get me wrong, children need boundaries and discipline which is a key requirement for creating boundaries, however, firmness and fairness must go hand in hand so the lesson or message you are trying to pass across is not lost in translation.

I, unfortunately, learnt this hard lesson a few years ago when I overheard my kids having a conversation about something that appeared to be quite serious. Usually, I would carry on with what I was doing, but for some reason, I decided to stop and listen to what they were talking about.

Toni: “Are you going to tell mummy or daddy what happened in school yesterday?”

Parent scolding daughter: Musing Pam
“All they do is shout and blame me”

Tumi: No!!!! I am never telling mummy and daddy because they’ll just shout and blame me.

I quickly stepped in and asked her why she felt that she couldn’t talk to me about what was going on. “Mummy when I do something wrong or you don’t agree with me, all you do is shout and you don’t let me talk”.

My heart!! How did I allow my child to feel that it was unsafe to talk to me about something so important and instead she was worried that she will be blamed for something she had no control over. I checked myself and I knew that it was an environment I had created at home.

The truth is a hard pill to swallow but I had to make a decision that I would never put my child in a position where they wouldn’t feel safe to share their feelings with me. I had a long conversation with them that day and apologised for all the times I made them feel this way. I had to reassure them of my love and commitment to them as a parent and that all I did was from a place of love,

and that “mummy is also learning, mummy doesn’t know everything”.

I have since tried to make a conscious effort to have open dialogues with my children rather than have a reaction when they have pushed the boundaries. How am I doing? It is still a massive work in progress. The reality is that staying calm when your child has “stepped out of line” is hard work particularly if this was not the style of parenting that you experienced growing up.

For me, there was often no room to have a conversation, the culture was simple, you learn to stay in line even when sometimes the line was either blurred or you didn’t understand it. You just put up or shut up. We simply must do better because the world is changing so fast, we need to be that safety net that our children can fall back on.

Like I earlier pointed out, it is not always easy to remain calm and rational when what you really feel like doing is scream, but the benefits, in the long run, is priceless because a time will come when your child needs a friend, and you want that friend to be you.

I promise to love my daughters
To my children, “I love you first”.

A promise to my Children “I love you first, and that is the bottom line. I may not like what you do, and we may not always agree on how I tell you, but I promise to listen and acknowledge you.

So when I need to let you know that you have stepped out of line, I will love you first so you know that my words and actions come from a place of love and respect for you, and that is the bottom line”.

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you must be in their lives today.” Barbara Johnson.

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5 thoughts on “Conversation vs Confrontation; Check your responses!!”

  1. O my word! This piece is soooo profound, there’s a saying that” you can’t give what you don’t have” in this case I’m ready to borrow it, for my children’s sakes. Firmness and fairness got me thinking, truth is, I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’d love my children’s memories about me tomorrow to be full of love and admiration and that Daddy may not be perfect, but his love for us is 10 over 10! Effective Communication is basically forged with trust and mutual respect. My Dad in is advanced years is doing virtually everything possible to have a relationship he did not build from the beginning ( no disrespect intended), it’s not going to well I must confess, though approaching 40, I have a lot draconian memories that makes me hold back. This, i intentionally want to avoid and prevent in relation to my children.
    I live with the conscious reality that they are children today, adults tomorrow. Power has a way of changing hands, so laolu, be calming down so that they don’t calm you down las las😁

  2. Macauley Coker Asin

    Congratulations, a beautiful and strategic write up for parenting and sincerely enlist young parents, older parents with children upto to the adolescent age and even parents to be, to react appropriately and accordingly.

  3. Very very true words right here Pam. I think every African parent needs to read this because our culture and background almost always sets us on the foot of shouting rather than discussing. So it takes a lot of awareness and being intentional to make the switch to having fair discussions rather than shouting.

  4. I will rather have a conversation with my children that’s how I teach them maturity and I also learn from that as well, no shame😂

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