Most CEOs have certain management responsibilities. As CEO of your family, part of your responsibility is to manage your children well. A father has to have a manager mindset. Let me illustrate. How do you handle management at the office? You probably meet regularly with those who report directly to you and spend time training them. Your goal is to train them so well that they’ll be able to take your job one day and hopefully do an even better job than you did. That’s what we should want as fathers too.
Part of managing your home is communicating well with those you have authority over.“Communication has been the number one thing in our family,” Grammy Award-winning Michael W. Smith said to me with great confidence. “Just being able to always communicate what you’re feeling is so important. I think a lot of times families get in trouble when they stop communicating. Somebody gets his or her feelings hurt and then somebody gets defensive and then you just stop talking. You start doing that for long periods of time and the gap gets wider and it’s just always harder to recover. It’s always about communicating and keeping the lines of communication open with Deb and me in our marriage and with our kids.” Part of managing your home is communicating well with those you have authority over. Connecting with your younger children is a bit easier. Staying connected with your teens is more challenging. Here are four things you can do to effectively keep the lines of communication open with your teen and be the family leader they need.
1. Be Calm.
When you approach a teen while filled with a lot of emotion such as anger, anxiety, or enthusiasm, the teen may feel pressured to comply. That approach doesn’t work because teens crave independence. They see themselves as older and capable, and as a result, they want to make more decisions for themselves. Instead, try approaching your teen calmly and be open to discussion. This will take the pressure off the teen and keep the conversation from escalating into opposition.
2. Be Confident.
Teens can be very persuasive and, as their persuasive ability increases, you may lose your confidence and begin to doubt yourself. If your teen is persuasive and persistent, the confidence goes even more quickly as the teen wears you out. Stand firm and know when you are weakening. Enlist your spouse to pinch hit for you and interface with your teen for awhile. Another option is to have a friend be a sounding board for your doubts and encourage you.
3. Be Clear.
Make your request clear and have the details of the request firmly in your mind, or better yet, written out on paper. All children know how best to win over or distract their parents. Teens are children with a lot of years of experience. Do not let them distract you with other issues; stick to the clear request you have outlined.
4. Be Concise.
Long, complicated speeches are exasperating to teens, especially after listening to seven teachers for seven hours every school day. Present your request calmly, confidently, clearly, and concisely. Do not make it a big deal. Listen to your teen’s response, acknowledge what they say, and then either modify your request or restate it again. If they agree to your request, acknowledge it positively. If they do not agree, do not engage; simply tell them you will discuss it again with them in a few days. Then walk away and let them think about it.
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “When we talk, do you feel like I listen well to what you are saying?”