Like All Good Things, Communication Takes Practice

Teachers are famous for giving homework. Most kids can't stand it, and parents often get kind of irritated too, especially when it takes a lot of time. Fact is, though, homework can be a very useful tool for incorporating new lessons learned in the classroom into the practice of real life. And we all understand that once a concept or skill is learned it takes a lot of repetition to make sure it completely sinks in.

Things are really no different when it comes to learning family lessons, too. Take this one: "Learning to communicate with your teenage children is a tricky process that takes creativity, imagination, tons of patience, and the deliberate infusion of 'communication routines' into family life." "Great," you say, "I've got that tucked away and I'll probably remember it for the test Friday." Sorry, the test is for my benefit, the homework is for yours! If you don't work the assignments, you don't pass the class. Simple as that.

Make a chart. Ask yourself these questions. "When" do I communicate with my teen? Subheadings under "when" can include breakfast; dinner; walking; driving; playing games; disciplining.... And "How" do I communicate? This can involve listening; telling stories; asking open ended questions; yelling; praying together; doing homework; lecturing; reviewing the day.... Then keep a record..

Your homework is simply taking the trouble to keep track. What you do with the information comes next. Because practice involves the deliberate allocation of resources to the areas you see as needing attention. And practice only works when it matures into a life changing routine. The New Testament writer James must have been thinking of families when he said: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

Because it is one thing to hear, and understand what needs to be done - and then something completely more to actually do something about it. Here's my word for the day: "Take the trouble!"

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