Interviews with O, her son J and daughter C
In this interview we hear from some slightly older children. C is 17 and J is 15. It's interesting though that their opinions are not very different from those of the younger contributors. Once again I thank both of them, and their mum for taking part. We start with O:
• What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned so far with regards to communicating with your children?
It gets more complicated as they get older so pick your moments wisely and think before you speak! Also I have found conversations in the car are good as there's not much eye contact so they don't feel like you're interrogating them but they also can't walk away. Also communicating with boys and girls needs to be handled very differently.
• When has it all gone horribly wrong for you, and what did you do to fix it?
There are a few occasions but a lot of them stem from me choosing to discuss something when I am tired or irritable and so I tend to be more confrontational or going on too long about something, labouring the point even though I can see they have switched off, talking at them rather than to them. On these occasions I tend to apologise afterwards and simply state my main point, sometimes via text which they can digest in their own time, and always end with telling them how much I love them.
• What is the personal trait you mostly rely upon in your relationships with your children?
Patience and perseverance in equal measure.
• What is your greatest fear for future communications with your children?
That there will cease to be any.
• Do you have strategy for this? If not, what would help?
Perseverance, like any relationship communication is reliant on both people taking part but I think if we persevere in asking questions and talking even they simply offer teenage grunts we will keep lines of communication open for the times when they do want to talk.
• When has it all gone wonderfully right, and why do you think that was?
When we were on a family holiday in Turkey with friends. We had no work or school pressures, there was intermittent wifi so we played games and chatted and just enjoyed being together in a completely stress-free environment with a good mix of family and friends.
• What question do you think should be on this list?
Not sure about questions, think parents would rather have answers!
NOW FOR C AND J…..
• What really winds you up about how adults speak to you?
C -They can be really patronising sometimes.
J - They talk too much.
• What do you really like when being addressed by an adult?
C - Being spoken to like an equal.
J - When they just get to the point.
• Is there anything you would change about how young people are treated in society, if so what?
C - Not to stereotype teenagers, society seems to think of all young people in a negative light, assuming they are up to no good or have low morals.
J - Not to always be so suspicious of them, like they're always doing something dodgy.
• Do you find it easy or difficult to communicate with grown-ups, and why?
C - Easy, because I'm lucky enough to know lots of adults I feel comfortable with and can trust.
J - Depends on what you are talking about.
• What about other children - of the same age, and other ages?
C - Very easy, younger kids are easier to entertain with silly chatter and older kids you can have proper conversations with about similar stuff that you experience.
J - Quite easy because they usually understand what you're talking about.
• Do you think adults understand you? Why / why not?
C - Not always, sometimes they assume that we think the same way they did when they were our age, that we have the same priorities they did.
J - Sometimes, it depends what you are talking about. They don't really understand about tech or social stuff that goes on, actually there's loads of stuff they don't get because things are so different to when they were my age.
• What lesson would you like grown-ups to learn about how to communicate with children?
C - To back off a little, we don't always want to talk about things, just let us know that you're available if we need to talk.
J - I don't know, they can ask too many questions, especially about school and they don't get what school's really like for us.
• What question do you think should be on this list? How would you answer it?
C - How would you like an adult to respond when you do talk to them?
Not to judge or always try and offer a solution.
J - No idea.