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Keep talking

Keep talking


I know many people who struggle to communicate with their parents about anything significant. They have basically amicable relationships with their parents, but they would never raise subjects that were too personal, too political, too religious, or too emotional, nothing where they might have to share real feelings, ideas, or beliefs. These subjects are not likely to go good places.

My own experience has been rather different. The members of my family do not always agree. In fact, we are known for arguing out our disagreements at length and with considerable passion. We all know, however, that we can talk about anything with each other. The conversation may get loud, it may get long, but it very rarely gets personal, and when it does we are quick to make amends. We are confident enough in our love for each other that we don’t fear to speak openly about what we’re feeling, thinking, and believing.

I want this confidence for my children too. I know perfectly well that they’ll feel and think and believe and make decisions differently from me. I’m okay with that, so long as they always feel free to share themselves with me and with their family. I want them to be comfortable enough in the love I have for them that they can have open and truthful conversations with me.

I’m not sure that there are any guarantees to make this happen, but one of the things I do to foster this kind of conversation is to have what we call devotions, though they’re not much like traditional religious devotions. I have them come and sit with me one on one, and we talk about what’s happening in their lives, about their excitements and their fears, their accomplishments and their failures. I also try to share with them the things going on in my own life, at least as much as they can understand. Then we pray together.

My hope is that the regular conversations we have now will lay the foundation for future conversations, that when bigger issues arise in their lives, they will already know that they have someone who will listen.