Communicating with your child

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A successful business man I know once shared with me an experience he had as a student. He explained that whilst he was studying he needed to be able to have money in his pocket, however, it's was hard to come across a student who isn't hard up for cash (not much seems to have changed these days). Anyway. He went on to tell me about his cheque guarantee card and how it worked. This cheque guarantee card would allow him to go into any shop, write a cheque out to 'Cash' and he would be given cash in return for his cheque. As his cheque guarantee card was guaranteed and honoured up to the value of £50, he would continue to do this multiple time. Safe to say he ended up withdrawing way more than he had actually paid into his account.
The Bank ended up writing numerous letters to him to try and resolve the situation as he had now gone overdrawn and started to avoid the letters and bury his head in the sand until one day the manager of the bank eventually caught up with him and gave him some valuable advice. The bank manager said "Look I'm not silly. I know you're a student and I know you’re going to go overdrawn every now and then. Your account may not always be in perfect order, however, when we try to contact you, you must communicate back with us. Without an open line of communication, it's almost impossible to resolve issues when they arise, which they will." 
WOW! This story resounded through my head more than this man knew. It got me thinking. I've been a child before and just as the bank manager knew not everyone who banked with him would have perfect accounts, I should know all too well not every child I’m fortunate to raise will be perfect. In fact, I can almost guarantee that none of them will be as we all know there's no such thing as a perfect child. Knowing this inevitable fact, I wondered how a father could take this approach with his children. Allowing them to have clear lines of communications to help them navigate through what is almost guaranteed to present some difficult and challenging periods of their life.  As it is currently the end of the school year and the summer holidays are upon us, it seemed appropriate to share just 5 simple, yet practical ways us as fathers and father-figures can create a more open path of communication with our children.

Talk Regularly

Communication all starts with opening your mouth and actually speaking. Talking with your child is not just about giving them instructions, it’s having a two-way conversation. Try asking your child about how their day was. Tell them about yours. When I first started my sales career I was told that the thing people talk about most is themselves. So this is a great conversation starter. Never accept "It was alright!" as a sole response to the question "How was your day?" It's easy to leave it at that and say "well I tried to find out about their day." Probe! Dig a bit deeper and let them know that you care, you're interested and you want to know more. When I ask my daughter this question and she responds with "It was good!" I follow it up with "That’s good. Tell me, what was good about your day?" and bang I’m in there. All of a sudden, we are talking. You’ll find that if you do this daily your child may even begin to instigate the conversation them self!

Be Open and Transparent

My dad used to share snippets about his past with me all the time. When I was young I used to get in numerous fights in and out of school. My father would tell me about the trouble  he used to get into when he was young, but would never tell about his past without sharing why he had done what he did, and how he eventually distanced himself from his troublesome ways. I know through conversations with my father he would only fight if there was something to fight for and if he could avoid it then he would. There is a saying that says “Trouble follows trouble” and my father would be transparent in showing me how he had to avoid trouble. This helped me understand that if I wanted to get out of the situation I kept on finding myself in, all I would need to do is follow some of the things my father had already done.The fact of the matter is that you can’t just expect your child to be open and honest with you if you won't do the same with them. Tell them a bit about your life and highlight the parts where you are both alike and share how you managed in similar situations.  

Give Practical Advice

Most children generally only ask for advice when they’re in need of an instant fix! They don’t want to know the workings out, they just want the answers. The truth is that not all children can handle being given the complete answer all at once. Drip feeding the answers piecemeal so your child can digest it fully may be the best method. There will be a bunch of skills that you need to teach your child to allow them to be fully equipped for whatever situation they are going through.  It’s the age old ‘wax on wax off’ trick. My father would never give me the whole answer. He would give me practical things to do that would either put me on a journey to finding the answer to my problem by myself or would prepare me for the next bit of advice. It's the "wax on wax off" trick.Let’s be honest! You're not always going to be able to give practical advice off the cuff, right in that moment, however, you will need to find the answers as they are looking to us as fathers to give them the insight they need to progress in life. We are in an age where answers are at our finger tips so Google it! Someone else in the world is either currently going through the same thing or has gone through it... whatever "it" is. You’ll need to find the answers because if you don't, then someone else will and that doesn't always work out well

Guide Them

At every stage in our lives, we've all need a bit of guidance. The simple fact that most people nowadays drive with SatNav, is a visual indication that we all need a bit of direction when venturing on new paths in our lives. We tell the SatNav our desired destination and it works out the best route for us. If a wrong turn has been taken you may start to hear it telling you "Re-routing! Re-routing!" Just like the SavNat, fathers need the ability to listen to where his child wants to go in life, give them direction and be ready to use a re-route plan if they start to deviate from the planned route.You cannot guide someone if you have no idea as to where they want to go. A father who finds out where his child sees themselves in 5, 10, 20 years from now is going to give himself a good starting point. As a father myself and after interviewing other fathers, I know that if I don't find out where my child sees herself years from now, as a starting point I may have a battle on my hands trying to direct her later on in life. I would find myself guiding her in a direction she could possibly be resistant to as she never wanted to go in that direction in the first place. As a father, once you know where your child wants to be, it will be a worthwhile investment of your time to research what kind of support they will need to fulfil their future goals. Finding out what they will need will help you understand how you fit in to making that become a reality.

Do As I Do

Our actions speak far louder than our words will ever be able to. We can sometimes get frustrated with our kids for not doing as we have told them to do, however, what we are really telling them with our actions is that it's ok because we're doing it too! Ultimately our children will only imitate the lives they're exposed to. I was often told as a child to “Do as I say” instead of “Do as I do” and it just feels natural to repeat this now that I have a child and be ok with this statement, however… the thing is, we can easily get into the habit of telling our kids this when in fact what our kids need is our “example” much more than our “instruction”. We can’t tell them not to do something when we’re doing the very same thing in front of them. We’ve got to practice what we preach in order to gain long-term credibility with our children. 

By creating a line of communication that is open, transparent and honest, you'll be able to develop a level of trust which has a huge impact on your child's life. This acts as the cement that firmly bonds a strong relationship between father and child.



I've simply listed 5 ways to build communication with your child but what other ways do you communicate with your child?


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