Parents of Teens, when you face conflict, take time to diagnose before prescribing.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you’ll know that he talks about the habit of seeking first to understand, then to be understood.
Another way that Covey phrases it is: Diagnose, Then Prescribe.
This is a habit we’ve been encouraging in our family; for years we’ve been telling our kids “Seek to understand.” But it’s a habit that hard to grasp because it certainly does not come naturally.
As parents, we have a tendency to rush in and fix things with good advice. But we often fail to take time to diagnose, and really understand the problem first.
Seeking to understand FIRST involves a mindset shift. We typically seek first to be understood. Do you hear and understand what I’m telling you? We may say to our kids. Sure you may “listen” but you are not listening with the purpose of understanding. You are tempted to filter everything through your own experience. As Covey says, you are “reading your autobiography into other people’s lives.”
When your child is going through something, you look through it through the lens of your own experience and may project that onto him.
For instance, let’s say your son comes home and is struggling in school. You tell him, “I know what you’re going through, here’s what you need to do to get better grades”. How do you know what he’s going through if you haven’t really listened to what’s going on inside his head?
Listen, ask questions, then listen some more. All the well-meaning advice you have to offer your child won’t amount to a hill of beans if you’re not even addressing the real problem. And you will not get to the real problem if you are so caught up in your own autobiography that you don’t take off your glasses long enough to see the world from your child’s point of view.
SEEK TO UNDERSTAND.