REFLECT BEFORE YOU RESPOND by Crystal Horton

The messages we convey to our children will stay with them well into adulthood. Whether the message shared is happy, sad or somewhere in the middle, our message will make an impact. Planting fear based thoughts in children can turn them into fearful adults. For example, when a parent is asked by their child “What is an alarm system?” The response can be in one of two ways:

  1. “This system is used as a smoke and carbon monoxide detector.” Typically, the child would shrug their shoulders and go back to what they were doing.
  2. “This system will keep you safe when sleeping, because if someone were to break in, the alarm would go off and alert the cops. We wouldn’t want anyone to kidnap you while you were sleeping.” This response will lead to questions of “What is kidnap?”As the parent digs a deeper hole, the child will start to feel insecure and possibly start fearing for their life. Fear of the dark or being alone can cause many sleepless nights.

Below is a recent example and three helpful tips to bring awareness to the importance of effective communication:

Think things through before you respond. Recently, my niece asked, “Why are you Hispanic? What does Hispanic mean?” I could have responded in a way that would introduce her to the history of racism. A simple response provides clarity.

Respond with care. I proceeded with care in responding to my niece’s question knowing my answer would form her opinion of the different cultures in America. With appreciation for my cultural background, I replied with delight. I was also able to provide her with a plethora of examples from books, family pictures and recipes.

Take responsibility for future generations. The messages we share with our children will become the words heard by generations to come. Intentional living produces seeds of positive growth and a thirst for knowledge. The more we can help teach a child to research their questions and network with others, our future generations will flourish.

The answers we provide may cause a negative or positive effect on our child’s psyche. Clearly understanding our family values can deepen our connection to our child when asked questions. Remember, your actions speak louder than words but it’s your words that create the decision to act.

Crystal Horton is the author of “Stretch Marks, A Mother’s Journey To Awareness.”

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