Our January 2018 ParentInvestment Roundtable themed “Mind The Gap: Bridging the communication gap between parents & children“, was very engaging and impactful. The candor and willingness of the participants to share their experiences made the discussions very rewarding with a lot of lessons learned. The general consensus was that the onus is on parents to ensure that the lines of communication with their children (irrespective of the child’s age) remain open.
As I ruminate over the Roundtable discussions I remember a conversation I had with a young man in his early 20’s some months ago, which got me thinking.
Why is it that a number of parents choose to act like they never did youthful things while in secondary school or in the University? We know our parents were not as religious as they are now – they partied; drank; probably failed at least once and did many other things young people do and yet they act as if they didn’t and try to deprive us of those youthful experiences, which would actually help us mature. Many of you parents have turned out okay in spite of what you did. Why can’t you trust that we would too and that you’ve done a good job in raising us?
How realistic are our expectations of our children? Naturally, as parents we have expectations of our children and the more they are able to meet these expectations, the more they are considered “responsible”. A lot of these expectations stem from a place of love but we need to be mindful not to slip into unrealistic expectations especially when we start comparing the child with his/her siblings or peers. There’s also the temptation to measure their achievements against our dreams for them and this can put undue pressure on the relationship and build resentments.
Life happens! sometimes no matter how good a job we’ve done in raising our children, they will get up to mischief; get into trouble; mess up the home; fail an exam; experiment with fashion & trends we don’t understand; have friends we don’t approve of; pursue a different career path from our dream; make choices we don’t approve of…This can leave a parent disappointed. Our disappointments if not properly managed can lead to resentment, which in turn, can lead to a breakdown in communication.
Unbridled use of technology and time spent on social media is already doing a “great job” in creating a communication gap between parents and children! Don’t contribute to expanding this gap by how you react, what you say and how you say what you say when your child doesn’t live up to your expectations. We still have a very powerful influence over our children’s lives. They may fall short of our expectations and get into trouble but sooner than later, they realize their mistakes. When this happens, can they come to us like the proverbial prodigal son? Would the lines of communication still be open so that we can guide them on the right path?
Mind The Gap…Keep the lines of communication open!