I was just about my daughter’s age when I stopped talking to my parents. A precocious 9-year-old, I was ultra-sensitive to the energy of the people around me and was a master at reading body language. It was around that time that I realized my parents weren’t that interested in what I had to say.
They weren’t rude about it. I never experienced them blatantly ignoring me. They were definitely not actively listening, or showing that they cared about what I was talking about. So I stopped talking. I didn’t tell them things, no matter how important, and I held back my feelings because I knew it didn’t matter.
As you can imagine, that stunted my communication skills dramatically. It took me until I was well into my twenties before I realized I had a huge problem, and even now I’m still learning better ways to express myself. Looking back, there were so many instances where I could have used my parents’ advice or support, but I didn’t feel like I could go to them.
That’s not the story I want my daughter to have. I want her tell me everything, and so far, it’s working. Every day after school she gets in the car and lets me know every single detail of her day. I mean, not only does homegirl tell me what she had for lunch, I’m going to hear about what her friends ate as well! Some days she will talk me through an entire chapter book, telling me every single thing that she read. She does the same for television shows, when she comes home from playdates, and after church. This girl can talk! I don’t mind, either, because she’s talking to me.
How do you get your daughter to tell you everything?
I know that as parents we have a lot going on. Stopping to listen to a 45 minute synopsis of “Because of Winn Dixie” might not feel like a good use of time. Believe me when I say that it’s the best thing you can do for your child. Listening, actively listening, does so many things to a girl. It helps her to know that what she says is important. When I ask relevant questions, it allows her to practice her communication skills which builds her confidence. Later, when I bring up something she’s told me, or ask check in to see how a situation that she told me about was resolved, she starts to understand that I’m really there for her and I care.
Right now she’s sharing about chapter books and who got in trouble for talking during class. As she gets older, the topics will be less innocent. That’s when she’s really going to need me. By doing this work now, she’ll know then that she can always come to me and she can keep telling me everything forever.