How well do you know your children?

Mother and teen.

Living with children every day from the time that they were small until they become teenagers usually makes parents feel that they know their children.

But, as many parents have come to discover, just living with children does not mean that parents know how they are thinking.

Some parents have been so wrapped up in personal interests that their children, as far as their thinking is concerned, they are strangers to them.

They are shocked when their children get into trouble.

They cannot see where they have failed.

Knowing what your child thinks

Do you know what your children are thinking?

Are you ever alone with them so that they can feel free to unburden themselves?

Do you take walks together, through a city park, along a beach or out in the country?

Do you work at things together around the house?

These are opportunities to draw them out and learn how they are thinking.

But you need to do more than just listen to them.

Communication must be two-way, with a parent listening to what is on their children's mind and also giving children information that will help to shape their thinking in the way that is best for them.

For example, children need a realistic moral code that they can rely on as a dependable guide.

Without it they may become like a boat that is cut adrift and swept onto the rocks.

A great number of young people have wrecked their lives and saddened their parents by trying to live without moral standards.

Communication can help them benefit from your maturity and experience.

In this arrangement, parents spend time with their children, carrying on an up-building two-way conversation with them.

By establishing two-way communication with your children you can learn what they are thinking.

They on the other hand can learn about things that are important to you and that ought to be important to them.

You can give them loving encouragement and counsel.

They, in turn, will feel free to approach you with their personal problems because they know you will listen.

The best time to begin establishing good communications is when the children are young.

Then when they grow older it will be more natural for them to express their feelings and thoughts to you.

But if a communications barrier has become established, it will become difficult to break it down.

The children are likely to feel that there is an unbridgeable gulf between themselves and their parents.

When children become teenagers there are pronounced changes that begin to take place in their bodies as they begin to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood.

These changes affect their thinking and their emotions.

It is a time when they really need mature and balanced counsel from their parents.

It is a time when they need a solid code of morals to enable them to steer a straight course.

If the groundwork laid by the parents in training their children has been good, they will be able to avoid emotional shipwreck.

When talking with a child, probably little will be accomplished if the father sits down and says:

Now, son, I want to have a talk with you. I want to know what you are thinking.”

It would be more effective for the two of them to converse when they are doing something that is pleasant, such as taking a walk together in the country or working on a hobby.

For example, by an occasional question the father can gradually get the boy to express himself.

Under these relaxed and friendly conditions he is more likely to reveal his pattern of thinking than if he were sternly cross-examined with distressing persistency.

A mother can do the same with a daughter while both are doing something together, such as making a dress or cooking.

An occasional leading question can shift the conversation so that the daughter will reveal her way of thinking.

Even though children grow up with their parents, they have minds of their own.

They are individuals with free will.

Their parents cannot control them like puppets, but they can help to shape the thinking of the children so that it follows a good pattern.

This requires not only early training but also free and open two-way conversations.