Something that has been made clear to my recently is how mucho importante communication is in a home.
I feel like teaching my kids to really communicate with one another is on the top of my list right now. So much of conflict resolution depends on communication. We teach about communication in Countdown with our engaged couples, and have had countless marathon conversations at our table about how a couple communicates (or doesn't communicate.) They develop these patterns within their home.
I encounter the same problems in dealing with college girls and their roommate issues. Every single time a girl comes to me with a roommate problem, it boils down to COMMUNICATION (or lack thereof.) It's caused me to look back and realize what a lousy communicator I was with my college roommates. It's always easier to gossip about a roommate than pray for them and confront them in love, right?
It may be possible that many of us are grown, mature people, walking around, with disabled communication abilities. We could draw disability for it, I think, because people draw disability for some pretty bogus stuff (they come into my husband's office asking him to sign the papers, so they can get disability for like, color blindness.)
Anyway, as I teach my children to love each other, build each other up, encourage each other, navigate their way through daily conflicts, and most importantly share their faith, they need to know how to articulate these things.
How many of us would say: We know about God, we walk with God, we have a grasp on how we're saved, but we don't know how to articulate that well when the time comes.
I feel like I am equipping (or not equipping) my children for life, healthy relationships, strong marriages, and most importantly, being communicators of the Gospel when teaching them about communication on a daily basis.
I have two kids who are speech delayed. If you've read this blog for long, you know this about Justus. Sign Language was his first language, and about a year ago, he could barely put two words together. Now, he can be a faucet of words that won't stop flowing. Most we can understand, many we struggle to. But Praise the Lord, he can talk!
However, because his speech was so late in coming, and he still struggles to be understood, his first responses ingrained in him so far are still non-verbal.
For instance, if you've been to our house and Justus wants some attention from you, he probably has come up to you and done something physical to get your attention.
Some people are taken by surprise by this with my boys, but non-verbal kids do things a little differently. They are loud, scream a lot (oh, how we're working on this with Treston!) and in Justus' case- he pouts! When he couldn't communicate what he wanted, he would get easily frustrated or angry and act out, pout, whine, or give the silent treatment.
His ability to communicate has definitely improved, but words have always been more of an effort for Justus. I'm not as good at mind reading as he'd like me to be. So he is still more inclined to pout. He is disciplined for this, and has always been, but it's a struggle to break this pattern. Rather than communicating what he wants, he will pout.
Sometimes, as grown-ups, we're not much different.
We want everyone to read our minds. It takes more of an effort to communicate what we want, what hurts our feelings, and what we actually meant.
I'm still trying to teach my older kids, when a game they're playing, (like chase the girl and tease her relentlessly) is bothering her or hurting her feelings to COMMUNICATE that instead of coming straight to me.
I won't be there forever! I would be disabling them if I refereed every dispute and cleared up every miscommunication between them. I want them to say, without whining or yelling or tattling, "This game is hurting my feelings, Jax." or "I don't like it when you come into the bathroom without knocking" or "When my friends come over, can you stop running through the house naked?" (ha!) Instead of the normal "MOMMMMMMM!!!!!!!"
Is anyone feeling me?
It's honesty, put gently, not harshly. The Bible says to speak the truth in love. That's our goal.
We also have a strict rule about words in our house. It's Ephesians 4:29.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Boasting is our natural sin tendency. It starts VERY early! Building ourselves up, and tearing others down.
I wish I could say I had mastered this, but Lord help me! I confess this almost daily! So the kids and I have this standard for all of us in this house!
I am training them to build each other up! To have kind words ready on their tongue for their brother or sister. It's going to take a long time. (For me too.) But this is the standard of holiness we will adhere to! Of course we fall short so often, but God is renewing our minds and hearts.
So we're learning around here...learning how to really communicate, in a loving, honest, and encouraging way.
It's a tall order. But thankfully, I don't have to do this in my own power.
And I want to send out grown children who are equipped to communicate effectively, honestly, and promptly in their lives.
Any tips, older, wiser Moms?