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Effective Communication for Parents

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Communication is something so simple and difficult that we can never put it in simple words.  ~ T.S. Matthews


Raising children is hard on the best days with the best children. When you introduce a disability into the mix, it becomes, at times, overwhelmingly difficult. There is information thrown at parents of children with disabilities from every direction. The needs of the child are difficult to understand, manage, and meet. In the process of doing this, we often fail to understand, manage, and meet our own needs. In order to meet the needs of our children and ourselves, it is important to effectively communicate with those around us.

Communication comes in two forms – effective and ineffective. Effective communication is a two way process that involves sending a message that is correctly received and understood (Effective Communication, 2010). I believe that this definition should go one step further to say that effective communication also produces an outcome in a constructive manner. Ineffective communication might include screaming, yelling, cursing, etc. It might also include peaceful talking, but not direct, constructive, or productive communication.

Raising children comes with a lot of necessary effective communication. Parents must communicate with teachers, doctors, therapists, family, friends, and of course, each other.  It is absolutely necessary to keep some simple guidelines in mind when addressing these individuals regarding our children.

James 1:19-20
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

When expressing a need or concern with someone, it is important to stay calm and collected. It is sometimes easier to make notes before having the discussion so that all of the important points of the conversation are covered. Be sure that those notes are easy for you to understand even if you become upset. Also, after conveying each point, you should listen to the other person. Give that person a chance to speak, explain their point of view on the topic. Be sure to ask questions and fully understand their ideas. While you may not agree with them, by giving them a calm listening ear, both parties will be able to effectively communicate and reach an outcome.

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

If someone is discussing a concern with you, it is important that you listen carefully and consider their concerns. Control your emotions and tongue. Hold your tongue tightly and be sure to answer any concerns in a way that is honest and calm. Be sure that you are not angry or boastful in your response, but calm, collected, and graceful.

It is human nature to become protective of our children or our family when someone addresses a concern. It is hard not to become emotional, but by staying calm, listening to the concern, and addressing it in a graceful way, we are able to work to achieve an outcome that is agreed upon by everyone. This is especially important when discussing concerns with our spouse. Raising children with special needs is difficult and when parents have concerns, but become defensive it turns the conversation in a negative direction. That negative direction is not pleasing to God and is not effective for reaching an agreeable outcome.

1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

It is possible to have disagreements, but still encourage each other and be positive and graceful in your communication. Use positive words, choose words carefully that show respect for the other person in the discussion. By showing respect, even in a disagreement, it is possible to encourage each other to listen and consider both sides of the discussion. Listening carefully, using positive language, encouraging each person to communicate their desires and concerns, and considering those desires and concerns is pleasing to God, it is also imperative to effective communication.

How this is currently affecting my family:

We have been having difficulty with effective communication with Gmail’s school since the beginning of the year. Since September, we have expressed concern regarding his grades and his lack of academic success compared to his past performance. The teacher ensured us that she was also concerned with his performance and would ensure we were receiving adequate information to help him at home. After expressing more concerns, we were told that he had been attending a reading program to help him move from a 3 to a 4 (out of four) on his end of grade reading test. When we questioned why he was being pulled from other instruction to increase his grade (without our prior approval), we were told it is actually a remediation program because he was suffering in reading comprehension. However, the test grades showed he was suffering more in the areas he was missing during this reading program. We asked for a daily report of what he missed during that time so that we could help remediate him in those areas at home.  We did not receive that report for a couple of weeks, and his grades continued to suffer. We emailed and expressed our concerns, but were met with opposition and lack of accepting responsibility. The teacher did say that she was aware of his grades continuing to suffer, but that she was doing all that she could. She then indicated that my husband and I had not done all we could do. This went back and forth one more time with my husband expressing exactly what it was we have asked for (in 2 parent conferences and several emails and phone calls) and how we had not received any of those things. He outlined once more exactly what we were asking for in order to help Gmail at home. We needed his reading book home every night, we needed to know what he was missing during that pull out time so that we could give him the remediation he was missing during class, we needed to know if he received a failing grade on a test so that we can remediate at home immediately rather than waiting until the next week. The principal has contacted us for a conference and we will be discussing our needs and concerns with him hopefully this week. We have tried diligently to effectively communicate our needs for Gmail to his teacher. We will go in with our list of points we want to make, exactly what we need from the school to make Gmail successful, and how we hope that both parties will be able to come together for the good of our son.

I will update after our meeting with the principal. We could definitely use prayers for Gmail’s success in class while we work to iron this out.

Reference:
Effective Communication. (2010). Effective Communication. Retrieved on December 5, 2010 from http://www.effective-communication.net/

**Note**
In this post, I jokingly gave a quiz question at the end. Yes, April was correct. The answer was that I put the dog through the emergency exit. LOL  I had no idea what I’d done wrong until he spelled it all out for me later. You are a very smart woman. đŸ™‚

2 thoughts on “Effective Communication for Parents

  1. Love the bible versus that you included. Such great reminders. My husband and I struggle with our communication with each other and I know that my daughter is starting to have issues the same that we do. Definitely something we need help with and to work harder on. Great information.
    Good luck with the school situation. I can only imagine how frustrating that would be.

  2. Thanks, Abbie. We also have issues with communication at times, that's one of our biggest areas of need in our marriage. Our children also struggle in this area, but as you can see here, one of ours has Asperger's. That makes it a bit more of an issue. I pray both your family and mine can work on this for God's glory.

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