Communication is needed for all good relationships. It starts with a child and their parents. You talk to your child and teach your child. That child in return learns how to communicate. You sit down on the floor with your child when they are two years old and you can have a deep (to them) conversation about their doll. If you listen and respond to them, they will learn how important they are to you and how important it is to listen to someone else. This lesson doesn’t come all at once, it’s a very slow one to learn, but as the years go by and your child’s conversations go from dolls to the friend they met on the playground to the boy or girl who asked them to the movies, it will sink in. You, as a parent, are their first line of communication and how they learn to speak to others.
Next it is between a husband and a wife. You need to be able to talk to each other of what is going on in your lives. Not just the hum drum daily things, but the deep things that bother you. You need to be able to talk about what is going on with your children. This communication actually starts before you are married. You need to be able to talk to each other before marriage. While in the marriage, you need to keep those lines of communication open. When a spouse decides they can’t talk to the other about something, the lines break a little. Over time and lack of deep, real conversations, the other spouse stops trying to communicate as well and the lines are broken completely. If you feel like you can’t talk to your spouse, something is wrong. If you freeze and can’t have a deep conversation, it isn’t good. Your child sees how you and your spouse communicate and they learn from that as well. Remember that they are always watching and it will turn around in later years when they find someone they want to marry.
Next is friendship. Sometimes you need a friend to confide in and talk to. This is not to take away from your communication with your spouse, but it’s nice to have this other person in your life who you can trust and who you know trusts you as well. A true friendship is one of respect, care, and love. There is no talking behind backs and no leaking of secrets shared. It can sometimes take a few months or a few years to form a bond with someone strong enough to feel like you can share things with that other person. Your child will see how you treat your friends and how trusting someone can be a good thing.
Now on to the hard part… Social Media and cell phones. These things have become an integral part of our lives. They help us keep up with all the people we’ve met over our lives They help us to stay in contact with our families who are far away. They can be a great asset to us, but we need to take them in doses. We need to make sure we take the time to spend with our spouses, with our children, and with our friends without the distractions of these. If you are out on a date or with a few friends for a girls’ night, I understand it will be fun to take pictures, but stay off of Facebook and keep texting to a minimum, only the absolutely necessary things. Put the phones down for a while and talk, have fun. It definitely helps with destressing. You can share those pictures you take later on after you’re home. They will still be on your phone. I have to admit that I don’t always put my computer away as much as I should when my children are home, but if they have something really important to talk about, I will push my computer off my lap and turn toward them to listen.
Another thing that has happened with this online age is the social anxiety. People have become accustomed to speaking through text or instant message so much that face to face social times are difficult. They don’t know how to deal with the real time emotions going on. We need to have more real interactions. We do have ways to do that online as well. Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facetime will give you that and I find it is an awesome way to communicate with those far away. I had a friend who I wanted to talk to and tried to call. I didn’t get an answer, so I figured that she would see that I called and call me back. Not long after I called, I get a text message asking what was up. I wanted to talk, hear my friend’s voice, hear her laugh over a funny story about the littles, and hear emotion over what I wanted to discuss and the reason I called. I tried to call again since I knew she had her phone, but again she didn’t answer. She texted me back saying that she prefers texting and that phone calls make her uneasy. I pulled away. I can discuss things over text with my friends, but sometimes you need to hear the support from them and not just see these little black and white words. Texting feels so much less personal and I think that is what so many people like about it. They don’t want to get personal. They don’t want to share their emotions. They might end up hurt. Well… the real world is personal and there are emotions everywhere. You will end up being hurt and if you pull away from those and try to shield yourself by using text or instant messaging only, you end up more depressed.
So, in conclusion, don’t let real communication die. Find ways to get together with your friends. BE a friend to someone who needs to talk. Find ways to be personal with people. Let yourself be the listening ear. Don’t hide yourself behind your phone or computer screen. Talk, really talk, with your spouse and sit down with your child to listen to them. They may have something important they need to say. You may need to be vulnerable sometimes, tears may be shed, words might be shouted, and emotions might be ripped apart, but in the end, the truth needs to be there. Without communication, you aren’t in a real relationship… you’re just a couple of people living lives next to each other and someday, you may not even be a couple anymore.