Family Home Evening
Communicating with Love
back on the blog at the beginning of the month because what an awesome topic! As a SAHM I'm always looking for new ideas and new ways to improve as a wife and mother.
In church I have been going to the marriage and family class instead of gospel doctrine and if you've never taken the class I highly recommend it. It doesn't matter if you are married or even if you don't have kids, the lessons can apply to all relationships and most people interact with kids whether they teach them, are aunts, uncles, close friends, or plan on having children in the future and these lessons really help you build those relationships.
This weeks lesson is in the Strengthening the Family manual, session 3, Communicating with Love and our class broke it into a two part lesson because there is so much great stuff to cover. It's all about how to communicate with love and this really goes for anyone who is communicating. Even with friends or your own parents, even coworkers. Some of the key points were about paying attention to not just what you are saying, but how. When we communicate, our entire body is telling the other person something, sometimes not necessarily what we want it to. One that really hit me hard was about listening.
How often do we get so busy that when our child comes to us with a problem, just to talk or to tell a joke, do we respond with, "Not now, I'm busy." I'm guilty. I do it all the time. And we have been struggling with communicating with our son. He was diagnosed last year with ADHD and this year we have seen some drastic changes in his personality that are leading us to look into depression, which is a whole different post. So I was telling my husband how he never talks to me unless it's to tell me something terrible, and during yesterday's lesson I realize, he is trying to talk to me, but I'm not willing to listen. It's not because I don't want to. It's simply because I don't realize that I'm doing it. I'm so focused on other things and it seems he finds the most inopportune time to try to open that door. But perhaps, and maybe I'm giving my son way to much credit here, but perhaps he is testing me to see what is more important, me talking to him, or making the dinner or doing laundry or whatever else it is I'm preoccupied with. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the second your child speaks you drop everything immediately and get on your knees and listen intently for as long as they speak. As parents, that's just not an option. BUT, if we can't take that few moments then, set a timer to remind yourself to talk with them when you are done with changing the diaper, thawing the meat, unclogging the toilet. Don't forget. Go back and open that door before it's closed. Keep the communication open. A way to really get some open communication going is to ask. Whenever you have a few minutes, try asking a few questions, or simply talk yourself. This way, your child knows that you do want to talk, even if at the time they have nothing to say. They will remember you made an effort and next time they do have something to say perhaps they will try to open that door again.
As I was planning our date night (it's my week and no sitter so, it's at-home after kids in bed style) with a great idea that I found on one of my favorite websites HERE. It's actually geared toward Back to School, quizzing each spouse on the other and see who knows who the best. But I thought what a great way to open up communication. To get to know a little more about the other. To learn to listen. And how great of an idea is that with kids? So I planned this little FHE, and came up with a fun questionnaire to do with the kiddos. Some of the questions won't apply to some kids and you might have others you'd rather ask, you could do them all in one night, or save one or two for family dinner convos. The point is, the questions get you and your kids talking. And you might be surprised on how quickly favorites change, and why. Don't forget to ask why to some of the questions, and don't forget to ask the negative stuff to. Kids need to know it's ok to tell you the bad, scary stuff without you having to "fix" it. Just to talk. So they feel comfortable talking to you. Plus it will give you some great ideas for how to spend some quality one on one time with your kids. I had no idea my daughter's favorite thing to do with me was help me make dinner, we rarely do it together! That's something we can do a lot more often. And my other daughter's favorite vegetable is squash, something I was sure only my husband and I loved. And simple things to make my kiddos feel like I really understand them and am doing my best to make them feel that I listen.
Communicating with Love
Scripture: “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart.” (Matthew 15:18)
Opening Song: Love is Spoken Here (Primary Children's Songbook p.190)
(Begin by making some faces and ask what you are feeling inside. Some examples of facial expressions are happy, sad, scared, excited, angry, confused, etc.)
- Is using words the only way to tell someone how you feel?
Sometimes we can tell people how we feel by what our face or actions say.
(Say something really nice but in a angry voice while stomping your foot and with an angry expression.)
- Do you believe that I was trying to be nice?
Sometimes our body says things louder than our words do.
(Use the matching expressions page found HERE. Have the children try to match the expression to the words).
When we talk or use our faces or bodies to say something, we are communicating.
It is important that we are saying the same thing with our bodies as we are our words. When we communicate angry or grumpy things, people don't want to talk with us as much and might not believe the things we say.
People are more willing to listen and to talk when we are communicating with love with our words AND our actions.
If someone is telling a story and you are looking somewhere else, reading a book, rolling your eyes, do you think the person telling the story feels like you are listening? Do you think that person is going to want to tell you another story? Will we remember their favorite things if we were playing with a toy instead of listening to what they were saying?
If we want people to listen to us with love, we need to talk to them and listen to them with love too.
When we are respectful and listen to each other, it will be easier to talk to one another. We can't be the only one talking, we need to listen too. When we listen and pay attention we are showing respect. We can make more friends and feel more love when we are showing more love and respect to others.
Do we always have to feel happy?
Sometimes we feel happy, but sometimes we are grumpy or angry or sad and that's ok. But we need to make sure we are not hurting other people with these feelings. Sometimes our feelings tell people things we don't mean. Sometimes we need to take a break until we can control these feelings. Sometimes it helps to talk it out with someone we love. We can communicate with love even when we don't feel happy inside. This will make others try to help us feel better and listen to us when we are talking.
One day Julie had a bad day at school because her friends didn't want to play what she was playing. When she got home from school she was feeling very grumpy. Julie's little sister, Emily, was so excited when Julie came home and was so excited to play together she jumped around and hugged her. Julie pushed her sister away and yelled at her, “Not now!” She then stormed away.
Emily felt very sad inside and began to cry. Later after Julie felt better she wanted to play with Emily but Emily was playing with her brother instead.
- Was Emily the reason Julie was having a grumpy day?
- Did Julie communicate with love?
- What could Julie have done differently?
- What can Julie do now to communicate with Emily that she really does want to play?
Heavenly Father sent us to earth to learn and grow and make good choices to return with Him one day. Sometimes it's hard to make good choices, sometimes we get scared, sometimes we feel lonely. Heavenly Father didn't send us alone. He sent lots of people together, He sent families, people who can help us and love us. It's important to talk to these people with love. If we show them love and respect when we communicate they will show us love and respect back.
Strong families communicate with each other with love. If we listen and take turns talking we can respect each other and love each other more.
Bear Your Testimony About: how communicating with love can help build stronger relationships. Share an experience you have had about how communicating with love helped or how not communicating with love made things harder.
Getting to know you Game found HERE
Ask questions to each other from the list and practice taking turns talking and listening. Have siblings and parents take turns asking and answering. Or use one worksheet for each child and keep it for remembrance. Remember to show you are listening with your bodies and faces too.
Happy Family Time!