Parenting and Family Communication

The holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year. Family gatherings, busy schedules, entertaining, and the bustle and pressure of expectations around gift giving. In this training excerpt, world-renowned peacemaker and author, Marshall Rosenberg, gives frank advice to keep our compassion in check by shifting our thinking.

Georgia and Brendan are just good friends…and the proud parents of a beautiful little 15-month-old boy, Malakai Finn. Parenting has been an interesting journey for them as when Georgia fell pregnant, her and Brendan were living and working in different states and not in a committed relationship. This is their story.

Are you wondering how your next family gathering will turn out? Is it tough to relate to some of your family members? Do you sometimes leave feeling drained and wondering why you went at all? It can be different this year. Imagine walking into your next family get-together feeling excited about being there and knowing that you will leave feeling happy about the whole experience.

“I love my children, but sometimes they drive me crazy!” Haven’t you heard parents say this? Have you thought it yourself? We want to meet our children with calm and compassion, no matter what, but we don’t always manage to experience calm and compassion.

One of the biggest issues for me as a parent is how I communicate, or not, with my children. With the best of intentions I’ve found myself saying things in ways which seem to actually make things worse and sometimes find it near impossible not to head down the slope of blaming, judging and criticizing.

“She drives me mad when she won’t tidy her room.” Frustration and anger are common when our kids either do things we don’t like, or fail to behave in ways we want them to. Nonviolent Communication allows us to shift our thinking from good and bad judgments to heartfelt connection with ourselves and our children through focusing on the universal human needs we are both seeking to meet.

Conflict has gotten a bad rap. It is usually considered something to be avoided, and parents usually think that something’s wrong with them or with their family when conflicts arise. Wherever people meet, however, there are going to be some clashes —some occasions when you bump into each other in the hallway of life. Learning how to move around — and with — each other at these moments will serve you and your children now and for the rest of your life-long relationship.

As a parent, of course you want to have influence with your children; you want to pass on values and guide them in ways that will contribute to their happiness and success in life. The question is: How can you have the most influence with your children—by lecturing and taking them to task or by sharing your values and living those values yourself?

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