If your child asks a question, it is because he wants to know the answer. Of course depending on the age of your child, you respond appropriately, but never brush off their question as not being important. The fact that your child asks you a question, shows that he is curious. He has a desire to discover the world he is growing up in and has a need to interact with you and have you do it with him. The question is important to your child based upon his current points of reference, or he would not have asked it
He will value your undivided attention so much, which will become evident in later years, when you ask him a question, or need an answer. He will give it to you, because that has always been the way you have treated him. As his father, you lead by example.
It is at a very early age that you should set the ground rules for the quality of communication between you and your children. This will determine what happens throughout their whole childhood. If you get this right, at the start of their lives, it will reap immeasurable benefits for the quality of your relationship together in later years. This will be very evident during the teenage years, when the challenges are very different, and can sometimes seem insurmountable for both of you.
Think of the amount of times you have heard other fathers say to their child “ask me later”, or “go and ask your mother”. By doing this, you are sending a subliminal message to your child. ‘I do not have time for you right now’, or ‘I’m not interested in what you want to know’, or even ‘it doesn’t concern me’. Potentially this can be the start of the construction of subconscious barriers to communication with your child, which as he gets older will be very hard to overcome.
So, stop whatever you are doing, or at least as soon as it is safe to do so, and listen carefully to the question. Then answer it honestly. You both will reap the benefits of this approach right through to your child’s adulthood………………… and beyond!
If you can learn to appreciate your teenager’s environment, such as his tastes in clothes, as well as his music, it will be a good start. It is very important to avoid driving a wedge between you and your child particularly at this stage of his life. Although you may not approve of some of his friends, while you can tell him discreetly about your concerns, you have to let him make his own decisions. He will discover on his own later on, whether he has made good decisions or not. If you can do this, it will keep you much closer to him when problems arise.
Keeping relevant, means making a real effort to keep up with your teenagers’ technology, his games and his music. You should learn to play his computer games with him and get him to teach and explain things to you. He will love the fact that he can teach you things as well, and it is not always the other way round. By having this approach, you will always stay an integral part of his life, as he evolves through his teenage years. Although on many occasions it won’t feel like it at all and it won’t stop the arguments and disagreements, he will definitely respect you for trying to do this. Try to empathise with his lifestyle and the things he enjoys doing as much as possible. And be careful not to condemn and be disrespectful to his personal tastes just because you don’t happen to like them yourself.
Whatever your child is up to, positive feedback about what he is doing will always be well received by him. Even if you actually disagree with what he is doing. During this period of your child’s life he will be full of self-doubt and will be trying to find his way, so if you can find a positive slant on things, he will always respond better to that than if you are always critical of him. But it can be very difficult to do this at times. Make sure you are sincere about what you say, as children are quite perceptive and can very easily see through their parents if you aren’t. There will of course be many periods of anxiety and doubt as a teenager, so your positive and constructive comments will help keep his confidence levels as high as possible.