Secrets of Communicating with Our Youth – Presence Harmonious Family Series

Lily Ma

People in different eras have had very different life goals and pursuits. Technology and innovation has created a totally new world for our generation. The lifestyle, thinking patterns, goals and ideals of today’s youth are in no comparison with ours twenty to thirty years ago.

Partnering with Crosspoint Church in the Bay area of California, Dr. Agnes Ip has shared with us, “The Don’ts When Communicating with Our Youth,” from which we can grasp the secrets of building relationships with the next generation.

1. “Don’t minimize the needs and feelings of our children”

Life is a journey. It is not only destiny that counts, but also all the feelings, learnings, experiences and people that we meet along the way that matter. Sometimes parents tend to focus on achievements and success, and may consider what the young people like to do as a waste of time. Dr. Agnes reminded parents not to minimize the needs or feelings of our youth. It would be much better if we can try to understand the values they hold and the friendships they treasure in this stage of life. Judging on what they need or feel will make them feel hurt or unloved, and push the children away from us.

2. “Don’t build our self-image upon children’s success”

There is a traditional thought that any personal success or failure will affect the name of the whole family. Therefore, it would be very easy for parents to tie their own self-image or success to their children’s accomplishments. They will be very proud when the children succeed, but ashamed when they fail. This creates tremendous pressure, affecting the self-esteem of both the parents and kids. Dr. Agnes pointed out that whether we have success or failure, it is part of our life experience. Parents are cautioned not to unintentionally convey a message to their children that failure is unacceptable in life. Instead, they are encouraged to stay calm, showing that it is okay to fail; and that learning to face difficulties or failure in life is even more important than seeking an easy life. Otherwise, the fear of failure can be detrimental to the mental health of our youth.

3. “Don’t jump to conclusions of what would happen.”

Asian parents emphasize a lot on the prospects of their children. They sacrificially pour in effort and resources in order to make their kids prosper. When their children end up choosing a path disapproved of by their parents, conflicts arise. Dr. Agnes mentioned that the life journey is the child’s, not the parents’. Parents should not try to decide for their children, and jump to conclusions for what they want to choose. For instance, do not judge and say, “There’s no way you can make a living by taking this major or entering this field.” When guiding children to make wiser decisions, parents are advised to ask questions in order to allow young people to explore ways of handling problems, to discover their own core values, or to consider the results of their decisions. This would be much more effective in order to minimize conflicts, and at the same time help youth to think about their future from different angles.

Understanding and empathy is of utmost importance when it comes to relationships. It is no doubt that parents always care for their children, and yet if they can look at the issues more from the angle of the young people, and pay attention to the 3 “don’ts” suggested by Dr. Agnes, it would be much easier to draw close to their children. Even for those relationships already filled with hurts or scars, it is never too late to extend our love and true understanding.

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