Monday, March 8, 2010

When the time for talk is over

I'm a huge believer in communication. I want my girls to come to me. I will endure inane stories about middle school friendships that are on-again, off-again because I want my girls to talk to me. I believe that an open door of communication does wonders for any relationship.

Lately, however, I'm learning that sometimes it's okay to be all talked out.

When they were little(r), I thought it was good for them to know why Mommy said "no" to this or that, especially when it involved safety issues. There's always that chance that my head will be turned and they'll think it's a good time to try their fingers in the socket! So I didn't mind taking a little extra time to follow a "no" with a "because."

As they get older, the issues get a little more complicated than "Mother, may I?" From having "the talk" to discussing friendship issues, priorities, a bunch of things that they throw at me and I rely on some old improv skills to get me through.

I had to have a serious talk with both of my girls the other day about school. Coming off a parent-teacher conference, my nine-year-old and I talked over dinner, and I have to admit, it went really well. I was able to give her a lot of praise and encourage her rather than lecture. We hugged, it was all good.

Wouldn't you know, that very night, my 12-year-old was up until past midnight, working on a paper.

I was able to not say anything in that moment. She had to focus, and it was not the time to talk about managing time effectively.

The next day, I had a chance to talk with her one-on-one, and it started off well. She, of course, hated having to stay up that late doing an assignment, but I thought the problem went a little deeper than that. I had to put down the hammer. If she doesn't start taking her school work as seriously as she takes her other activities, then one or more of those activities will have to go. I told her she couldn't be in her school's talent show, and she accepted that. But when I started talking to her about ways she could improve her study skills and time management, she responded with whining and complaining.

And that's when I was done talking, and told her so. I reiterated the choices and consequences, and ended the conversation. And she pulled out her homework.

An open door of communication is great, and still my ultimate goal. But I'm learning that sometimes, it's okay to close it.

Originally posted on LA Moms Blog, Mar. 8. 2010.

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