I’ve been thinking a lot about strategies for encouraging your kids to confide in you. Let’s start with a familiar scenario for all moms:
“Mom, can I have a snack?”
“Hey, Mom, can we practice our duet now?”
“Mom, she’s not sharing!”
“Mom, will you check my Math?”
“Mom, when is snack time?”
“Can you help me with this, Mom?”
“Mom, let me tell you about the dream I had last night.”
“Mom, do you remember that time when…?”
I wish I had a dollar for every time my kids call my name each day.
No, seriously. I really do wish that.
And then I wish I earned extra money for all the questions that pertain to a snack.
And maybe even a bonus on top of that for every time I’m beckoned through a closed door (especially a bathroom door).
While we’re at it, why not throw in extra credit for two or more kids talking to me at the same time?
At ages 12, 9, 8, 6, 5, and 1, my kids are still pretty young, and it’s hard for me to imagine a time when they won’t want to talk to me at every moment of every day and night.
But I know from my own experience as a teen and from hearing the experiences of other moms that those days are coming and will in fact be here before I know it.
So I’m starting to think right now about some strategies for encouraging me kids to confide in me.
Looking ahead to those days, I know one thing for sure: I want my teenagers to talk to me. I want them to want to.
I want them to have that much confidence in my unconditional love.
I want them to have that much certainty that I will listen.
I want them to have that much assurance that I care.
And I want them to have that much conviction that I will be on their side.
There’s no magic equation that will guarantee a great relationship with our children as they grow.
But here are 10 qualities I try to nurture, prayerfully paving the way for teens and young adults who can confide in their mom. These are my 10 strategies for encouraging your kids to confide in you:
10 Strategies for Encouraging Your Kids to Confide in You:
1. Be calm. It’s absolutely essential that we make a habit of restraining ourselves from strong outbursts of emotion regarding our kids’ behavior and our conversations with them. Expressing shock, anger, or embarrassment can have devastating effects on our relationships with our kids. The calmer we are, the more open they’ll be.
2. Be open. When it comes to topics our kids have questions about, no subject should be off-limits. If they’re wondering about it, they’ll find the answer somewhere, and a vigilant parent will want the answers to be found within the context of her relationship with her child.
3. Be sympathetic. As much as possible, we should try to see every situation from our kids’ perspective. Getting past the surface and considering the heart and motives of our children conveys that we’re on their side and we’re looking out for their best interest.
4. Be discreet. Would you want to confide in someone who shares your secrets? I sure wouldn’t. Someone who is trustworthy knows when to keep things concealed (Proverbs 11:13). We also do well to avoid embarrassing our kids, both in person and online.
5. Be interested. Honestly, this is one of the hardest things for me, and I suppose that reveals a hefty measure of self-centeredness. So many things that are important to my little ones are pretty trivial to me—but to my kids, they’re of utmost importance. Interested parents will make efforts to be attentive toward what their children pay attention to. As someone once said, if they can’t talk to us about little things, why should they come to us with big things?
6. Be perceptive. A wise parent is an observant one. This includes watching for mood swings and subtle changes in behavior, asking questions and paying attention to their non-verbal cues. Depending on age and personality, not all kids chatter openly about what’s on their minds, but instead wait to be asked.
7. Be intimate. As a mom of six, time for one-on-one conversations can be scarce, but it’s so important to make this a priority. Maybe it will require planning ahead by having a date night with individual kids. Perhaps it will require some flexibility when a child wants to chat for a while at bedtime. Sometimes it will require some creativity by having a single child accompany us when we’re running errands. If we’re intentional, we can find time for building closeness with our kids.
8. Be restrained. This will come naturally to some parents and will be very difficult for others, depending on our personality. But Proverbs teaches us that restraining our words is prudent (Proverbs 10:19). If we want our kids to talk to us, we need to hold our tongues and give them a chance! Being quick to listen and slow to speak is a helpful trait for parents to develop.
9. Be attentive. I’m sometimes guilty of not paying attention when my kids are speaking to me. I don’t know that this is always a bad thing, because it’s important for kids to understand that while they’re dearly loved, they aren’t the center of the universe. It’s okay to teach them about patiently waiting for a better time to converse. On the flip side, being in the habit of giving kids our eye-to-eye, full and complete attention speaks volumes about their value to us.
10. Be authentic. Genuineness goes a long way with kids; they can spot a fake a mile away, after all. So we should let them see our weaknesses; we need to admit it when we don’t know the answer. We ought to ask for forgiveness when we sin against them; and we must strive to be truthful about all things. Doing so goes a long way toward building their trust in us.
It’s your turn now! When you were a child, did you have an open relationship with your parents? Why or why not? How do you encourage your kids and teens to confide in you? Do you have any other strategies for encouraging your kids to confide in you?
More Parenting Tips:
- Selfishness: How to Motivate Your Kids to Put Others First
- 10 Essential Life Skills You Need to Teach Your Kids
- Complaining Kids: 7 Parenting Strategies
- How Parents Can Stay Patient With Their Kids
- Should You Be Your Child’s BFF?