Talking to your children
Here are a couple of tips to use when talking to your childrenDespite the fact that every parent has to do it, usually 17 or 18 times a day, it can be something none of us really want to do with any seriousness. We don't want to have to try and get our kids to actually listen to what we have to say, because the fact of the matter is that kids are pre-programmed to ignore anything that comes out of our mouth unless its "here I bought you a toy" or "have another helping of cake."
As parents we all need to find a way that will allow us to talk to our children and actually get them to listen. Whether they like it or not, there is advice (and even orders) that are designed to help them. Talking to your children can be difficult but it is also certainly necessary.
The absolute best way to talk to your children is by taking the approach that you are equals. This doesn't mean that you walk into their room and start the conversation with "hey homey, can we jam for a minute?" because if you dishonestly try and pretend as if you are from the same generation, there you really are telling them that you have no idea how to talk to them. You will also be telling them that you don't really respect their intelligence.
This also doesn't mean that you need to be pals in any way. What you shouldn't do is talk down to them. Do not ever start a conversation by basically claiming that they aren't going to understand what it is you are about to discuss. "Because I said so." should only come out if the discussion devolves into an argument and you want to make sure a line is drawn in the sand. Once this line is drawn, the conversation is basically going to be over and time will have been wasted.
There is an approach, known as "Love and Logic" that is geared towards getting your point across when you have these kinds of discussions while also preparing your child for growing up. The basic approach is that you make it very clear that you will always be there for your children, but that you are also willing to let them fail in order to feel the consequences of that failure. By doing this, you are telling them that you will offer up advice, but that the final decisions are theirs to make and that they will have to clean up any mess that is caused by those decisions.
This means that if you are talking to your kids about pulling up their grades, you can lay out several suggestions about how you think they could go about accomplishing it. You can tell them about the consequences that will befall them in the real world should they not work to pull them up, but you also make it clear that you aren't going to hold their hand and make sure they are doing their homework, or that they got everything right. By doing this, you are letting them know that they have some decisions to make and that you aren't going to make them for that child.
It is also important, especially if you are talking about something that isn't particularly positive, that you back it up with something positive. This doesn't mean you whitewash the issue at hand (like bad grades) but you can point out where they are succeeding (whether its one class or at something outside of school) as something to build on.
By not going overly negative the child won't feel like you're just piling on and they will be more apt to listen to what you are actually saying. The risk is always that the child will hear what they want to hear, rather than what you actually said. You want to do everything you can to make sure they're in a position to actually listen.