I talk a lot about the dos and don’ts and the practical side of having conversations with your kids, which is all well and good, but in reality, none of that will actually land with them for real, unless they genuinely feel seen by you.
Kids are still very much feelers and they can immediately sense if we’re there but we’re not really there for them.
In other words, there’s a big difference between being a physical presence in your child’s world and actually showing up whole for them. I’ve spoken to many parents and teachers who argue until they’re blue in the face that they give up so much of their time for their kids and are always ‘there’ for them and can’t understand why they can’t get ‘through’ to their kids or their kids just keep making poor choices.
Think about it, how does it make you feel when you’re talking to someone about something important, being vulnerable and you can tell they’re not really listening or they’re distracted?
Kinda awkward, frustrated even. You’ve shared a part of yourself that was hard to do and now because you haven’t felt received, you might even feel stupid for having said what you’ve said and regretted it, wish you could rewind the clock and then you make a ‘note to self’ to not open up to that person again. You no longer feel ‘safe’ or ‘seen’ by that person.
Kids feel this on steroids.
If you truly want to impact your kids, you have to work harder on ‘seeing’ them. That involves doing a number of things. It involves you:
Observing your kids
Taking the time to really look and understand what’s going on for them
Taking a step off your own island and onto theirs
Avoiding judgements and preconceived ideas
Making time for them
Creating space for conversations that put you fully in their world so you can learn more about them.
One of the very best scientific predictors for how any child turns out—in terms of happiness, academic success, leadership skills, and meaningful relationships—is whether at least one adult in their life has consistently shown up for them.