Child psychology books tell us that a child of 18 months to two years old has one favorite word: "No!" Come here: "No!" Shut the door: "No!" Eat your cereal: "No!"
The first real communication frustrates the parents — not to mention the child.
Why is "No!" the favorite word? Probably because that is the most often heard word the child is familiar with, because the parents have been using it most frequently for the preceding 18 months! In order to protect the child as he begins to crawl, and later walk, it is necessary to tell him "No!" Don't put everything on the floor into your mouth. Don't get near the fireplace. Don't touch the porcelain birds on the coffee table. All the no — no's are well established. The yes, that's fine, good boy, good girl statements we make are rare if not missing totally.
So the child figures "No!" must be the way to communicate. Parents give up too soon because of this first negative conversation — which may not seem to be a conversation at all. TV takes over as the educator, mother, father, baby-sitter. The child learns many wrong things through this medium. After it is too late, we try to control the viewing. That only anchors the negative approach. But how can you reason with a child? He won't understand.
Despite the fact that the child's next favorite word seems to be "Why?" we fail to recognize an effort at meaningful communication. We substitute lies and myths for true answers. The stork. Santa Claus. The bogeyman. Meanwhile sex, violence and cartoons on TV have communicated inaccuracies and total confusion regarding the real world. Our child learns — but mostly the wrong things, answers, solutions.
We give up. Maybe school will help straighten him out — after all, teachers are supposed to teach, aren't they? But by now it's probably too late. The child knows he has not received meaningful answers from his parents; he's coy and shy in even discussing (advanced communication) his real questions because he's been told he won't understand even if he's told; or to wait till he's older; or we don't have time now (and probably never will); or don't disturb me, I'm busy; can't you do anything right?; etc.
Now the communication offered by TV contributes to the sum total of ignorance of all the kids put together, and they share their fogged knowledge with each other — don't trust anyone over ten! They've learned you can't really talk about the things you want to with your parents, the teachers, any adults — they just put you off, don't give right answers, don't understand.
Bad goes to worse and we end up saying we just don't understand why the child doesn't like school, get better grades, why he runs with the "wrong crowd," gets into trouble, smokes pot, gets pregnant, runs away, seems to hate us.
Children are a bother. We have forgotten what Jesus said: "Let the children come to me, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as they. Don't send them away! I tell you as seriously as I know how that anyone who refuses to come to God as a little child will never be allowed into his Kingdom" (Mark 10:14-15, The Living Bible).
We hope God, our Father, will listen to us when we seek His help, guidance, answers. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. Ask and you shall receive. All those are positive responses from God. He doesn't tell us to wait till we are perfect so we will understand. He forgives our imperfections and patiently listens, and through His Word offers real answers to our problems.
There's a saying: "Talk is cheap." But it's not true. Talk is very expensive. It takes time, concern, care, thought, love. Kids know more than you think. Don't underestimate them. If they don't understand your first answer, phrase it in different words; if they don't understand your second answer, phrase it in different words; and on, and on, and on. Soon you will be communicating. Give them the benefit of the doubt and they will do the same for you. Give them your time and they will give you theirs when it really counts. Trust them and they will return the trust. Give them real answers and they will always come to you with their questions — and all their questions are important, because the answers are going to form the basis of their lives.
Try it. Why not communicate with your kids?