Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category


Posted: February 2, 2012 in Parenting
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I went by my daughter’s house on my way home yesterday.  She is such an amazing cook and since they are not much on eating leftovers, my wife and I get to help them not feel guilty about wasting food.  We do eat leftovers – and like them.  I believe some foods are even better when they are leftovers… but I digress.  My point is, I got to see my grandson Charlie.  I currently have two grandsons, Charlie and Callen, and I say “currently” because we are expecting another one around the end of April (Praise God from whom all blessings flow!).  One of the side effects of this Man Cold I’ve had for almost a week is that I have been quarantined from them.  My original plan was to just go to the door and pick up my rations and leave but that is not what happened.  I need to confess to you that those little hands reaching out to me and that little pitiful I-just-woke-up-and-I-need-my-Pop voice was more than I could handle.  I was weak and I gave in.

Now before you cast too stern of a judgment on me I have two points of rationalization for you to consider that were the basis of my decision to expose this sweet little sixteen month old to my infection.  First, my daughter had obviously had a very bad day.  She is the one that is carrying the new edition to our family and was in, what appeared to me, need of a few minutes of “mom” time.  Since my wife was with me I took Charlie and went to the other room.

My second point of rationalization was that it was probably little Charlie who infected me with this horrid flu bug in the first place.  He has been dealing with the kid version of the Man Cold for close to two weeks.  Last week he was eating a cracker and decided it would be the spiritual thing to do to share with Pop.  I declined the offer but the little guy can be very persistent with those blue eyes and all.

Still not convinced I was right to hold him in my condition?  Well you are probably right.  It was all about me.  I wanted to be the hero.  I wanted to rescue my daughter and be the “man” with Charlie but it was all about me.  Here is the real sad truth, many times as a parent I used the same type of irrational logic with my own kids.  Instead of doing what was best for them, I did what was best for me. I did not want to be the Big Bad Dad; I wanted to be Disneyland Dad!  I wanted us to all just get along and on many occasions I said yes when I shouldn’t have.  My own fear of rejection caused me to go along to get along, putting my kids in danger.

I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases Proverbs 13:24, “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.”  My interpretation of this verse is that if I really love my children (and grandchildren), I will do what is best for them and not what is most convenient for me.  For years now there has been a cry rising up from the younger generations.  The cry is, “I don’t need you to be my best friend, mom and dad, I need you to be my parents!”

Parenting and Grandparenting is not easy.  Pray for me.  I’ll pray for you.  Also pray for Charlie’s cold!

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Ok, let’s get more specific. How does the game actually work in relationships?

In my previous post I wrote that all you needed to play the kids version of King of the Hill was a bunch of kids and some elevated surface. To play relational King of the Hill what you need is a basic belief that the way you relate to others is the right way (and even if it’s not, it doesn’t matter).

In other words, you have to have it in your mind that your way of doing things – including relationships – is superior to everyone else’s; that there isn’t a whole lot left for you to learn on the subject; and even if there was, it doesn’t really matter because you are strong enough to make everyone around you submit to your way.

Most of us aren’t quite as in-your-face as that. We’ve learned that there are several strategies to get the upper hand and to take charge of those around us. As I hit on these you might want to place a mental check mark next to the ones that apply to you.

1. “Pull rank” verbally or non-verbally.

When your kids complain about your policies and decisions and want to know why, is your primary explanation to them “because I said so?” “I’m your father” …”I’m your mother” … That’s what it means to pull rank.

In essence, whenever we communicate, “you have to do it my way because, right now, I am higher on the hill than you are” we’re pulling rank. And if we’re not careful, we can fall into a pattern of doing that to our spouses, children, subordinates at work and even our friends.

Is there ever a time when it is valid to pull rank? Yes, but very rarely. Only when it is critical that things be done your way and only after every other option has been exhausted.

2. Take offense when someone questions you.

This communicates that you don’t like anyone thinking that they may have a better way or better idea than you do. To be King of the Hill, you need everyone to automatically assume that your way is the best way, that your ideas are the best ideas. So, you need to let people know that if they don’t do that, you are going to make things hard on them.

3. Expect others to compensate for your relational weaknesses.

Have you ever heard yourself saying to someone else, “Look, this is just who I am. This is how I roll. Take it or leave it”?

Occasionally, it may be ok to say something like that, but people who play this game say it all the time. Instead of admitting their weaknesses and trying to improve themselves, they throw the burden onto everyone else. “You learn how to deal with me,” they say, “and we’ll all get along just fine.”

4. Stick together primarily with “birds of a feather.”

It’s hard to play this game for a long time because it hurts to have people leave you or distance themselves from you. So, you need to have other people (who are also playing the game in their relationships) encourage you that your way is the right way. They understand exactly how you feel, because they, too, are surrounded by jerks who just need to get in line.

5. Rely on logic to control people.

“Knowledge is power”, they say, and so people who play this game strive to become masters of knowledge – or at least enough knowledge to have control over others. (Very rarely does their knowledge ever apply to them personally). They know it all and they know how to present it in a way that makes everyone else look stupid or foolish.

So, that’s the strategy, But how do you win?

A win (and I use that word somewhat sarcastically, because nobody really wins in this game) amounts to successfully covering up your personal insecurity through pride.

That’s the real goal of people who play this game. On the outside, they appear totally self-sufficient. But, on the inside, they are full of self-doubt. “Do people really care what I think? Will they listen to me? Am I valuable? Am I capable?” … and the list of questions goes on and on. So, to compensate, they put on a front that says, in essence, “I’m better than you”, which is the definition of PRIDE.

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Posted: October 12, 2010 in Love, Marriage, Parenting
Tags: , ,

Last night I watched a program I had recorded with my DVR.  The program is called NO ORDINARY FAMILY.  The truth is, this family was all too ordinary until one day they discovered they had contracted extraordinary powers following a pond crash of the airplane on which they were passengers.  The mom in the story is very career centered but deeply regrets sacrificing her family.  She finds the solution in the “super powers” she receives.  Her super power is speed.  She can move super fast, pretty much faster than a speeding bullet.  She now has the ability to bring home the bacon and fry it too!  I think that NO ORDINARY FAMILY may find an audience because there are so many people today who might be able to pull life off if they just had super powers. 

So many people are asking the question, “How do I make more time for the people I love in my life?”  I think the problem is that we really can’t make time.  Each of us has the same amount of time each day.  So it’s not about making more time it is about prioritizing the time we have.    How do you find more time for the people who love you and that you need to love? 

Let me give you one suggestion: turn off the TV and the computer.  Recent studies show that the average American sits in front of the television or video screen – the TV screen or the computer screen – working or playing, six hours a day.  Average.  Six hours a day at five days a week, let’s say you didn’t do it on Saturday and Sunday but of course you do that too.  That’s thirty hours a week.  Thirty hours a week for a year is one thousand five hundred and sixty hours in front of a screen.  Let me put that into perspective.  That is ninety-seven straight days of sixteen hours a day in front of a screen. 

We wonder why we don’t have time for relationships.  It always amazed me that people will go watch reruns of Friends instead of making friends. We spend more time watching Big Brother than being one.  We will watch a reality show about somebody else’s family instead of working on the reality of our own family.  We will spend hours watching the show Survivor while our families aren’t.

The Bible says in 1 Cor. 13:3 (MSG) “No matter what I say or what I do or what I believe I’m bankrupt without love.”  The Bible says that God wants you to use your 168 hours a week in building and strengthening your relationships.  The truth is most people today are in time-starved relationships.  You are in time-starved relationships!  Why is it that we spend the least amount of time with those we love the most?  Tell me the logic of that one. 

THOUGHT QUESTION:  How can you rearrange your schedule this week so that you can spend more time loving God and loving your family?

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It is not uncommon for homes to have rules and boundaries for curfew and chores and things such as these. Let me suggest some you may not have thought about:

1. Spending Time is Non-Negotiable

If you want your relationship with your teen to move beyond entertaining them and providing for them you will need to schedule it and be regular with it.  A weekly father/son breakfast or a father/daughter dinner to spend some time developing your relationship needs to be a non-negotiable. Make it a rule – we will go out and eat together once a week. “If you don’t show up, you owe me $10. If I don’t show up, I owe you $25”

2. Listen More Than You Talk

In simple terms: Keep Quiet! Instead of always nagging, correcting, cajoling, or critiquing – just be quiet. Look for opportunities to lead the conversation around to where you ask your teen to explain their point of view, their solution to a problem, or how they arrived at a conclusion, then allow them to talk. Don’t try to correct their thinking – just let them talk.

Some parents just need to zip it. Teenagers today need to know they have someone who will truly listen to them and not judge them for what they say. So sharpen your own listening habits, and your teenager may just learn how to listen to you. Your home needs to be a place where everyone listens so make it a rule.

3. Lighten Up! That’s an Order!

Some families need to learn to laugh together. So, make it a rule to do something wild and wacky together every week. Parents today take themselves and their teens way too seriously, at times. I still remember the day that I lightened up with my kids.  I decided to enjoy them and try to get them to enjoy me more.

4. Our Rules Will Be Periodically Reviewed

Rules need to be reviewed from time to time to see if they are still appropriate as your kids grow from childhood to teenagers. For example, “We must hold hands crossing the street.” Now, that was appropriate for little children, but for a teenagers it would be, well, just weird! Likewise, a rule such as “curfew is 9 o’clock” for a 12-year-old may be obsolete for a 17- year-old.

Nothing undermines rules, even in society, more than when they are totally inappropriate, for example:

In Hartford, Connecticut, it is illegal to cross the street walking on your hands.

In Memphis, Tennessee, it is illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians.

In Washington, it is illegal to drive an ugly horse.

In Youngstown, Ohio, it is unlawful to run out of gas.

By the way, some rules never change and these are the kind of rules that apply to all family members, including the adults. They generally have to do with the values you hold dear, like: respect, morality, family observances, faith, common decency and societal laws.

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1. Sharpen Your Arguing Skills

I really hope you didn’t think that you and your teenager would never have conflict.  Conflict is okay. It’s part of the maturation process for them and you.  Your teen’s growing independence is naturally going to cause him to question your values? I still don’t see eye to eye with my parents on everything (Don’t tell them ’cause I’m not sure they know).

Conflict happens. Why not use those times as an opportunity to develop your teen’s independent thinking. You will also be allowing them time to process your side of the argument. They’ll never place value in your side until you at least validate their right to theirs.

Here’s what I am saying: don’t allow conflicts to hinder your relationship with your teen. It’s okay to have a heated discussion from time to time. But scripture reminds us to “Be angry, but don’t sin.” I would suggest the following boundaries for arguing;

  • Never, never, ever let an argument get physical.
  • Never be disrespectful to each other.
  • Never be demeaning.
  • Know when to call a time out to allow emotions calm down. Resume the discussion on more respectful terms.

Even if neither mind has changed, end the argument on a loving note.  A good way to do that is to make a rule that every argument must end with a hug. That’s the goal. Even if you can’t agree, you are the grown up, and you can at least agree to disagree because it was all talked out.

2. Continue To Engage Your Teen

Have you ever heard a parent say, “Just get out of my sight?” I hate to be the one to break this to you but that is a MISTAKE!  That may be ok until everyone has had a chance to cool off and respect is restored but ongoing avoidance will only serve to build walls between you and your child. Instead, by engaging in discussion you will let your teen know you’ll continue to love them and spend time together even though there is a disagreement.

I have shared this with the kind congregation at Wahoo a number of times because of its impact.  A young couple went to a toy store to by a gift for their child.  When they engaged the sales clerk they told her that they were looking for a toy that will keep their child busy and be educational.  They told the clerk that they want the child to be able to love and hold the toy when she gets afraid or lonely.  After showing the couple several toys, the frustrated clerk told them that she was afraid that she would not be able to help them.  She said, “It sounds to me that what you are trying to find are parents and we don’t sell those here!”

Kids need to know that you are there for them even through the stormy waters of rebellion.  Make sure you are scheduling time for them in your day and engaging them in conversation.

3.  Model Positive Problem Solving Skills

Life is not a TV sitcom where major life problems are solved in an hour or less.  For the most part, teens are somewhat limited in their ability to solve problems. They often don’t have the maturity to unravel life’s bigger issues, and they don’t understand how to change their behavior in ways that are beneficial to them. That’s where a parent comes in. Demonstrating your own resources for managing frustration is one good way to teach your teen how to handle their frustration. Tell them how you go about solving problems at work, or with your spouse. Let them know you need God’s help, and that you don’t have all the answers. Help them learn how to use different behavior as a way to solve their own problems or to change their situation for the better.

4. Choose Your Words Carefully

Don’t set yourself up for failure by the words you use. Avoid words like “you” or “always.” Speak in broader, less offensive terms. Be more open to what you will and will not support. I know you’ve probably heard this but I am going to remind you of it: pick your battles carefully.

I read this just today. Be clear on your limits. Don’t say, “It’s your choice,” or “What do you think?” It is better to say, “Here are my limits…what I will and won’t allow in this situation. Then take some time to explore their needs and ideas and try to find a way to meet each other halfway, listening more and talking less.

5. Let Them Know You Are Stubborn With Your Love For Them

I guess what I am saying is (and here’s that word again) model before them God’s love.  Teens need to know that there is nothing they can do to make you love them any less and there is nothing they can do to love them any more than you have always loved them. I did my internship for my doctorate at a nearby children’s home. The one problem most kid’s I counseled dealt with was feeling like a failure.  The relationship with their parents was performance based and they felt as if they could never perform up to their parent’s expectations.  So they gave up.  Try a “grace based” relationship instead of performance based.  They need to know that they have your unconditional love, acceptance and worth.

Conflict, when handled properly, can improve relationships rather than tear them down. You can be certain that your teen will have conflict with their future college room-mate, their future spouse, a future employer, and even their future children (turnabout is fair play- Cha Ching!). So, engaging with your teen in conflict now is more about teaching them how to manage conflict in the future and less about who wins today’s argument.

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Your child has a choice in this area.  They will either be controlled by hormones and/or peer pressure or they will learn self-control. Here are some tips on teaching your child self-control:

1. Ask lots of questions. Ask your teen questions about moral issues, and wait for their answer. “How do you think that person felt about being treated that way? What is the best thing to do in this situation? What would you do if you were asked to have sex, steal or take drugs? Tell me what you think about…? Allow your teen give his/her opinion without injecting yours. This is a fact finding step not an opportunity to lecture or teach. Let them feel the impact of hearing their own words. Their answers may be immature or even irresponsible; however their responses will echo in their mind and start them thinking about the issue and how they would really act if that situation were to arise.

2. Let them suffer the consequences of their decisions within the limits you set. Once you’ve given them more freedom, allow them to make their own decisions within that area of freedom, good or bad. For example, if they spend the allowance money that they normally use for gas to buy concert tickets, then they will have to figure out how another way to get around. Don’t just give them more gas money. Let them walk, if necessary, to show the foolishness and reality of spending money unwisely. Once they have to walk, they’ll never make that foolish decision again. Suffering consequences is the greatest teaching tool for responsibility.

3. Set and make clear your boundaries, then enforce them if they are broken.

For example, if you see your teen is making inappropriate statements on Facebook, something that is out of bounds in your home, ask him – “Is this an appropriate statement?” Allow him the opportunity to respond as he should, by removing the comment. Let him come to the right decision on his own. If his immaturity causes him to not respond as he should, then log into his Facebook account and change it yourself. Then reinforce the rule with consequences the next time the rule is broken, such as loss of the freedom to use the computer for a time. If the rule is consistently broken, then remove the computer from access. This will impress on your teen how passionately you feel about the issue. Replace “computer” with TV or music or use of the car.

4. Applaud your child’s responsible decisions, and concentrate on their successes, not their failures.

Don’t say, “I told you so,” or, “I never should have let you make that decision,” when they make a mistake. Instead, patiently allow them the opportunity to make the right choice and look for progress. Every time your child responds with maturity and responsibility, congratulate them and explain that because they made a good choice you are now moving them up to a new level of freedom. Remember that instant feedback is always best.

5. Model a lifestyle of good decisions in your own life.

Observing you make good decisions at key moments in your life will come back to them when they have the opportunity to make similar decisions. Your real life example will give them the courage to make a wise choice in a similar situation. They will also offer something to think about if the teen makes a different decision. In the Bible we find a lot of instruction about modeling:

Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. In the same way, you younger men must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” 1 Peter 5:3

My advice today for parents of teenagers is to begin to shift control to your child before you think they will need it. Give them the opportunity to show what they can handle, rise to the opportunity and don’t bail them out or condemn them if they fail. Give them the chance to figure it out, learn from consequences, and find a better way for the next time they are faced with the same decision. Giving teenagers increasing levels of independence, coupled with proper limits and parental guidance, will begin to teach them the most important type of control, self-control.

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Smurf Fishing

Posted: July 24, 2010 in Humor, Parenting
Tags: , , , , ,

Ok, here it is.  This past Tuesday my son, Clayton, and I were out on Playalinda Beach in Canaveral National Park surf fishing.  Clayton decided he would video me fishing (I supposed at the time for an instructional video).   After watching it over and over I decided he filmed it for America’s Funniest Home Videos!

If anyone draws any spiritual applications from this please let me know!

I have already been made aware that the title of yesterday’s post was becoming a model man and just to the left of that title was a picture of me.  In the interest of full disclosure, I know that I have not achieved the status of model man or any other model for that matter.  The picture is in reference to the fishing trip with my son that I mention later in the post.  So save your stamp and emails (you know who you are).  Now on with today’s edition of the model man series:

Another character trait of a model man is COMMITMENT.  That’s the value that makes you great.  Men who do what my football coach used to exhort my high school team to do, “man up.”   What I think he was saying is that losers give up but if you want to win in life you have to be willing to man up!

Guys, to say that we have a problem with this “C” word is an understatement.  I Googled “Men of Commitment” and got things like: Why Men Are Commitment Phobic, Men Afraid of Commitment, 5 Reasons Why Men Fear Commitment, and Why Men Don’t Commit.  That is not a very good sign.  We don’t have a very good track record here.

What do we do to turn this trend around?  STOP BEING WIMPY WILLIES!  The number one complaint I get from wives in marriage counseling deals with passive husbands.  She says, “My husband is a go-getter from the word, Go, when it comes to his business.  He is highly motivated, energetic.  He takes on the world with a vengeance.  He even takes on his sports with a vengeance.  He’s incredibly active in taking the initiative.  But when he comes home, when it comes to helping me, parenting the kids, and spiritual matters, he abdicates all leadership and becomes passive.  Then the catch 22 is that he resents me for taking the lead.  He resents it and he’s jealous of it and he even puts me down for it.”  That is sad!  Really sad!

Where are all the Joshua men from Joshua 24 in the Bible?  Men who will say “I don’t know about Media Max’s family but as for me and my house we are going to do it God’s way.”  Where are all of the men who hang on to their promises with the tenacity of a bulldog?  Another saying that my coach would preach to us is, “Winners never, never, never quit and quitters never win.”  The problem is, when we men quit, the losers are our families which has a ripple effect to our churches and communities.  Let’s “man up” men.

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One of the missing elements in our society, in my humble opinion, is the presence of strong male role models.  I feel I can speak freely here because I am a male.  I am afraid that we men have for the most part just surrendered our role as leaders in the home to “Media Man.”  Media Man has several personas:

He sometimes presents himself as Macho Max.  He has been played by a number actors such as Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Deny all your feelings, ignore the law, never complain, never apologize.  Just sweat a lot.  Accomplish the impossible every eight minutes, take anything you want, use foul language, and bully people.  The Macho Max model.

Another way Media Man is played is Ranting Ray.  This is the  type of person who builds up his self-worth by constantly putting someone else down, especially his wife and his family.  He rules over his family while everyone actually makes fun of him behind his back.  He’s frightened by the world so he keeps everyone at arm’s length with his dry humor and cutting remarks.

The third model that M.M. personifies Wimpy Willie.  This  is the man who is so inept he’s constantly outwitted by his children, his wife and even his dog.  Nobody takes him serious.  He’s a bumbling idiot.  His motto is “Blessed are the passive for they shall avoid conflict at all costs.”  You might find this man in most of the prime time cartoons (Homer Simpson) and in my day it was the Dagwood Bumstead comic strips.

I would like to suggest a blueprint for us men to follow that is based on the best book in the world, the Bible.  I believe the world is in dire need of men with these qualities:

1.  We need men who are COMPASSIONATE– men who put relationships above results;  people above profits. 

This is not natural for most men.  It is my nature to focus on results, not relationships.  We are very result oriented.  Often women tend to be more relationship oriented than men.  Guys, we’ve got work to do here.   The Bible says if I have not love, I’m nothing.  I’ve heard it said that the greatest things in life aren’t things.  Jesus said “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet  loses his soul.”  We’ve got to look at relationships to God and to each other.  People last, profits margins don’t.  People are going to last for eternity your profession won’t.

“They are all wrapped up in their own affairs” is what the Phillips translation says.  The man who’s all wrapped up in himself is not a Daddy.  He’s a mummy.  The average father spends less that two minutes a day with his children in serious conversation.  How do you develop relationships like that?  You can’t.  “I’d love to play ball but I don’t have time … I’d love to help out but I don’t have time … I’d love to do this but I don’t have time …  I’ve got to go make a sale, close a deal, run a race, whatever.” 

I just finished a great day with my youngest son surf fishing in the Atlantic.  How many fish did we catch, you ask?  None, zero, nadda.  But for me it was a great day because I did something that I know I have not done enough of, give my son the gift of TIME.  Last week I played golf with my oldest son.  I got a few more strokes than I did fish.  That’s ok.

Come on, you know it’s true.  We need more men (and women) with compassion, who put relationship before results.  We’ve got to balance these things.  

2. We need men who are CONSISTENT.  Men who put character before conformity.  They’re not afraid to be swim against the current.  They’re not afraid to stand alone for what’s right.  A man who will stand up and say, “I don’t care what everybody else thinks.  I don’t care what they’re doing.  I’m going to do the right thing.”

There are a lot of guys out there like that.  We have some men like that in the wonderful world of Wahoo Church.  There is a guy name Timothy like that in the Bible.  His friend Paul said this about him, “Timothy has proved himself  he has served with me in the work of the gospel.”  The word “proved” literally means “tested character”.  He didn’t  bend to pressure.  He was a man of conviction.  An opinion is something you’ll argue about but a conviction is something you’ll die for.  The young generation of today needs to see more men of conviction.  There’s the old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  What do people in your life know you stand for?  Football?  Whatever team you like?  Is that all the people in your life know about your life?  The kind of people who make an impact with their lives are people of conviction.  The people who changed the world, for either good or for bad, were those with the deepest convictions.  They believed it from the depths of their hearts.  And they lived it out.  

Proverbs 10:9 “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”  The bottom line is integrity.  The world is interested in image but image doesn’t last.  But character lasts a lifetime.  It’s not image that counts.  It’s character.  It’s integrity.  That’s the bottom line.   We must constantly be checking:  Is my private life consistent with my public image?  If it’s not I’d better change it.  I’d better not be living Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I need to be constantly evaluating, Am I being consistent in my lifestyle publicly and privately.  Inconsistent fathers produce insecure children.  Unreliable husbands produce unstable marriages.

I will have to pick up here tomorrow.  That surf just about beat me to death and this red tan is needing some aloe attention.

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Someone once said that communication is more than merely talking; it is combining the power of words with the power of the ear to create a soul connection.

 James the brother of Jesus gave us some very valuable teaching on how to communicate effectively. He said, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” I am convinced that a sincere commitment on the part of two individuals to apply James’ teaching in any relationship will bring about a significant improvement.   Great communication is essential to a great relationship because when we are communicating well we feel close and intimate and when we are not communicating well we generally feel distant and cold. 

It has been my experience that couples who are experiencing a break down in the area of communication have this formula mixed up; they are quick to speak and slow to listen and as a result they are quick to become angry!

Some time back I made a “Listening Button” that I keep in my desk drawer for those times when I can’t keep one or both partners from interrupting the other.  The image I used here is what it looks like.  I cut it out and glued it to a frozen orange juice can top.  I let one partner hold the button and as long as they are holding that button they cannot speak – only listen.  Then we switch.  They usually are willing to listen if they know they are going to be given equal time to be heard. 

The goal of good communication is to understand each other better and to create an opportunity for your partner to be heard, understood and accepted.

Let me give you a few more tips on communication today.  Putting them into practice may seem awkward at first but so did walking and using eating utensils.  I work on these every day.  Start simple, pick one and look for ways to use it in your daily communication interactions.  Let me know how it goes.

1. Mirroring: Mirror back to your partner what you heard them say:

  •   “I heard you say….”
  •  “If I understood you correctly, you said…”
  •  “It sounds like you are saying….”

 After you mirror back to them, get some feedback. Ask, “Did I get that right?”

 Show an interest in wanting to understand the whole picture, ask, “Is there more you want to tell me?”

This is what they use at the drive up window of your favorite fast food place.  You give them the order and they repeat it back to you.  Occasionally they actually get it right!

2. Validating: Validating is seeing the world through your partner’s eyes.  It is giving them the right to their opinion no matter how far out in left field you feel they are.

 That’s how we show compassion, something everyone wants to experience from his or her partner. Validating is not agreeing, it is basically saying, “From your perspective, I can see why/how you would see it that way.”

Validating sounds like:

  • “I can see what you mean.”
  • “I can understand where you’re coming from”
  • “That makes sense to me because….”

 3. Empathizing: Empathizing is a really powerful way of developing intimacy and again really conveying compassion to your partner.

 Empathizing requires you to verbally capture the emotion behind what your partner is saying and express it to him or her. Empathizing is speaking with your heart.

 Empathy sounds something like:

  • “You must feel ……”
  • “That must make you feel…”
  • “I wonder if you feel…”


One major mistake that many couples make is fire hosing each other with too much information. Give bite size pieces of information. Don’t rehash the whole history and all the details. Use self-control and practice condensing what you want your partner to hear. Use only 3 – 5 medium size sentences at a time. If you have been talking for 1 minute it’s time to let your partner respond. Use an egg timer if necessary.

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