Successful Parenting - 'Not in front of the children honey!'
(28 Sep 2011)

Kids & Seasons

'Not in front of the Children!' by Nikki Bush

Children today are exposed to all our conversations. You rarely hear parents applying the “not in front of the children” rule. Do be careful what you say within earshot of your children because the conversations they are exposed to have the power to both harm or heal.

The cellphone era has ushered in a more public approach to conversation because we take calls wherever we are and in the company of whomever we are with. Our children get to hear unfiltered calls, often on bluetooth, so they hear the whole conversation, not just our response. What they hear is shaping their brains, their values and their worldview — how they see the world. You can add what they hear on radio and see TV to the equation and you have a lot of inappropriate information on steroids bombarding our children.

The conversations they hear should strengthen the following:

  • Their confidence
  • Their character
  • Their worldview

This is not always the case, according to visiting clinical psychologist, Dr Sandy Gluckman. “Kids are faced with a very challenging world today and they need to believe that they have everything they need to be okay in it, but many are fast coming to the conlusion that they don’t have the resources to cope because they are often privvy to disturbing information.”

Never forget that little eyes and little ears are constantly upon you. Let’s see what has been shaping your children — hurting or healing them in the past week — this is an exercise definitely worth doing (probably take you 15 – 20 minutes, you don’t need to make it a thesis, this is dipstick research):

  • Think about all the conversations you have had in the past few days within earshot of your children. You may need to make a list of them — who were you speaking to and what was it about, eg, your son overheard you talking about his low muscle tone to a friend, or your daughter overheard you talking about a hijacking incident.
  • Think about how they have witnessed you living your life — just for the past few days eg. how have you coped with stress, what was your personal organisation like, how present have you been, etc.
  • Now divide a piece of paper in half and on one side write down the positive and negative values you are currently teaching your child based on what they have heard or witnessed above.
  • On the other side write down what values you specifically want to be teaching them.
  • Now have a critical look at the differences which will give you a good idea of whether there is more hurting or healing going on. It would be rare to find one and not the other so don’t panic.
  • Finally, you need to have the courage and the character to make the necessary changes to bring what is going on more in line with what you desire or what you would like your family brand to stand for.

In no way am I advocating wrapping your children in cottonwool and protecting them from the world. That would leave them in a very risky position. I am, however, encouraging a more conscious and aware approach to what your children are hearing. And when they do hear something that they shouldn’t, do turn it into a teachable moment. Potentially negative and harmful situations can be turned into unbelievably powerful, positive ones depending on the conversations you choose to have with your children.

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