Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Raising boys who talk.

It's sometimes to my detriment that I talk about almost everything that's on my mind. It's near impossible - when something is bothering me - to keep it inside. I'm like a child with a giant secret they can't bare to keep. Or an elephant-sized bubble ready to pop. I'm big on sharing (fancy that) and I believe it's the most therapeutic and healthy way to keep a clear mind. Providing it's done in the right way, of course.

But I wasn't always able to share. It took me a long time to figure out that the basic act of talking was the answer to most of my problems. I tended to keep my feelings hidden, letting them fester rather than bringing them out into the open. It was as though I was frozen.

And then one day I met a wise old man with white hair and a stick on the side of a mountain (or maybe it was a friend in a pub - but the white haired man sounds more intriguing) who told me that if I learned talked things through, to get them out in the open, I could resolve my issues and move forward. So I tried it. And it saved me a lot of relationship problems. Rather than sulking and stewing on my own paranoid thoughts, I began laying everything out on the table. And sometimes the talking was uncomfortable, with long, awkward silences. But after a while I found out his advice was spot on.

Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds - especially when the issue is sensitive, and there are still plenty of times where I'm not able to say what I really think (imagine if you said what you were thinking all the time!). But at least I've made a start.

It should be simple - talking. But it's not always.

There are so many barriers. Sometimes I feel as though I live in the land of people who've mastered the art of not talking. In our efforts to become technologically brilliant, we've invented a million ways to avoid one of the most primitive forms of communication. We're so engrossed in conversing through computer screens and hand-held devices we sometimes forget to just talk to each other. Email is easier than picking up the phone; uploading photos to Facebook is more convenient than printing the files and flicking through an album with a friend; there's text messaging when we want to make plans and Twitter when we want to update our friends.

It's all very solitary and convenient.

Even without all the shiny communication devices available to us, there are people who've developed other internal ways of not talking: they keep their true thoughts enclosed for fear of confrontation or consequence. And though it's hard, I think it's a slippery slope - this act of never saying what you really think.

And it's because of these barriers to communication that I'm working hard to raise two sons who will talk. By offering them an environment that's always open to conversation, I want to teach them that talking will help them through the tough times and the challenges that life will inevitably deal them.

I want them to know, growing up, that they can come to me with any morsel of information, however small or large, scary or ridiculous, and know that I'll listen.

And I might react later, but first I'll listen.

Exactly how I'm going to do this and whether I'll be entirely successful, I don't know. I guess I'll start by practicing what I'll preach - I'll try to be open and honest as much as I can (as open and honest as a mother can be without being downright embarrassing). I don't think it's a complicated thing or an act of genius, simply a work in progress.

And if that doesn't work.... I'll lock them in their rooms until they'll talk.


That's a joke by the way.

How about you - how do you encourage open communication in your household?
Stumble ThisFav This With TechnoratiAdd To Del.icio.usDigg ThisAdd To Reddit Bookmark Twitter


Loukia said...

Great post, friend. It's true, we are so connected online, and even making plans with friends is usually done through text messages, it's just not as nice as talking, over the phone, or in person, you know? And good for you for being the type of person who talks about things, about all your feelings. That is the most honest way to be, and that's something to be proud of! At home, well, I talk to my boys constantly, and they are quick the big talkers, too. They talk non-stop... goodness, I have no worry there! I have told my boys they can tell me anything, anything at all, and I will always support them and love them. :)

MommyLovesStilettos said...

What a fabulous post! :)

Jules said...

I'm not much of a talker, but my hubs is. He has taught me so much in the last 30 years....

Elaine A. said...

I'll have to email or text you about this...

Oh wait, just kidding.

You're right about that part though. And I certainly don't want my boys "texting" me from their bedroom to mine some day.

But right now, at this stage, I'm lucky to get my oldest to give me an answer to "What was your favorite part of school today?"...

Mwa said...

I try to do the same. It isn't always easy - like this week's decision on the word "homosexual" and why it's not good to use it as a swearword (the lovely influence of his best friend) - and there doesn't always seem to be time, but I try hard.

LisaDay said...

Great post. Communication is so important. I will keep this in mind with my guy who is already voicing his opinions including 'Do want to go' to daycare.