Effective communication for dummies

I hollered at my elder daughter this morning, barely a day after she got back from a week-long teen camp in the Himalayas. (When the kids aren’t here, I miss them like mad. When they are back, I am irritable about the slightest things, sigh.)

I had issues about various things, and it all just came out in one tirade as I drove her to a friend’s house. “What did I just say? What did you hear? Tell me?” I ordered her to repeat my three major grouches.

“I hear you… you are bitching about me,” she said, bitterly.

I was stunned into a momentary silence. “I wasn’t bitching about you. I have three issues with you,” I clarified, instantly mollified. And I rattled them off point by point, in a calmer voice devoid of anger or bite. This time she repeated it after me, assuring me she wouldn’t ever do those things again.

The conversation shook me up a little. I often holler at the kids when they don’t behave the way I expect or prefer. There’s the crazy assumption that the louder I shout, the better they’ll get my message. But my elder one is a child who has ‘felt’ and intuited her way through life; who reads emotions not words; who hears your tone of voice and not what you say. How could I forget that it’s not what I’m saying, it’s how I’m saying it that matters to her?

There are only a handful of situations that can provoke me to losing my temper, and so far, my firstborn has figured at least a couple of times on the list. But today has been a little wake-up call. If she continues with behaviours that bother me, perhaps it’s not her, it’s me. It’s a shortcoming in my own communication with her. I haven’t expressed myself in a way that she has understood.

Before I can teach her a thing or two about life, I need to let her teach me some lessons first.


6 thoughts on “Effective communication for dummies

  1. WELL done!
    FYI: I backlinked this page to an article on my ADD-focused wordpress blog (“The Top Ten Things We Wish YOU’d Stop Doing”) and will ALSO be linking to an article posting 12/27/12 (“Surviving Beloved’s ADD”).
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC – (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and on ADDerWorld – dot com!) “It takes a village to transform a world!”


  2. Dear Madelyn,
    Thank you very much for the backlink, I am terribly honoured to be featured on your blog. And I must say I am touched that you even found my piece relevant though I have not mentioned ADD anywhere! And yet, it IS relevant, because kids and teens with ADD do need the same kind of ‘lateral-thinking parenting’ that my ultra-sensitive, highly intuitive teen does. She is a handful, and has kept me on my toes all my life 🙂 and I am a better person because of it.
    Thanks again and I wish you all the best with your work,


    1. Adopt me! I’ll bet you are a GREAT mom! I’ll bet your daughter will say so too (some day – grin!) btw- my mother was wonderful, but she’s been gone for many years now.

      RE: “lateral thinking communication” – ALL human beings, age irrelevent, could benefit – so I hope some of my readers WILL take the time to click the link and jump over here to read the loving way you frame it.

      Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC – (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and on ADDerWorld – dot com!)
      “It takes a village to transform a world!”


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