Note: This is the first of a planned series of blogs on the family. Follow the Family Fridays tag in the future for more articles.
Talking is teaching. That is a plain and simple fact. What a parent often fails to realize, however, is that teaching does not have to be planned activity or spontaneous “teachable moments,” but that it takes place every time the parent opens his or her mouth.
Because of this, parents should make it a habit to talk, talk some more, and keep talking. The silent parent is missing a great opportunity.
I say this as one who is below average in conversation. I talk a lot (too much, sometimes) in my career, but I can be (even prefer to be) silent when I’m in a home or even social setting. But I also realize that conversation is the heart of learning for a child. So to the parent (or grandparent) who has a little child in their presence, I encourage you to TALK, TALK, TALK.
Here are some of the areas in which a silent parent misses out.
Silent parents fail to pass skills.
If you are a parent, you have skills. You know how to open a can of beans. You know which faucet is hot and which is cold. You know what makes the heater turn on, and back off. You know how the garage door opener works. You know when the trash man comes, and how to have your trash taken away. You know what happens to that trash when it is driven away. All of these “skills” are things your child doesn’t know. So, rather than opening the can of beans in silence, talk with your child through the process. Rather than just opening the garage door as you drive up, talk through the process (maybe even train them about what a TURN SIGNAL does!). All the little things you do you can teach your child to do!
Silent parents fail to pass knowledge.
Parents are smart. They know what time the sun will set. They know what makes winter. They know when the moon will be full. They know that those stars in the sky are in the shape of a dipper. They know the books of the bible. They know that E=MC2 (well…maybe). Parents should make it a habit to talk about what they know. Tell your young kids how to raise chickens or find a book of the Bible or bake a cake or recognize the teaspoon and the tablespoon or grow a garden or count to ten. Whatever it is, pass your knowledge!
Silent parents fail to pass morals.
We are surrounded by opportunities to talk to our children about morals. We see things on television. We hear songs on the radio. We engage in conversations with the neighbors. We live in a world of morality and immorality. Parents should take time to talk to their children about things that are right and that are wrong. Dads and moms should say things like, “what do you think about what she just said?” “What would the Bible say about this?”
If a parent is engaged with their child about skills and knowledge, the conversations about morality will be natural.
Silent parents fail to redeem time.
If you are a naturally silent parent, you are missing opportunities. Our children grow up so quickly, almost “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Parents should develop a conversational nature in their relationships with their children.
When do you begin?
Start young. Very young! We know that children begin to comprehend things that parents say as early as a few months old. That is not too early to talk to your children about your day. Talk to your baby about what you are doing. Talk to your toddler about your current activity (changing a tire, cooking dinner, loading the dishwasher, etc.). Talk to your preschooler about matters of “reading, writing, and arithmetic” but also about matters of weather, basic politics, and family relationships. Talk to your elementary age child about just about anything. Talk to your older child about philosophy, history, fishing, hunting, hiking, sewing, painting…you name it!
When you gather around the family dinning table: talk!
When you travel in a car: talk!
When you sit on the patio: talk!
The family that talks together is the family that raises healthy and smart children. –And our world needs more of that!