A challenge to connect with your tween? Try positive presuppositions!
ONE of the best ways to connect with another person is by injecting a positive presupposition into a question or suggestion.
Using such a communication tool makes a conversation much more likely for your child to respond in a way that leads you to understand how your child thinks.
To have a positive presupposition about something is to assume that it is possible or that it will happen. From their response, you are given an insight as to the values, perception, and decision-making processes they engage in.
When they do it, be sure not to judge or criticize or even react but learn to appreciate that your they have just given you an invitation to see the inner workings of his or her thought life.
A parent's experience
One father was telling this writer that he found it very hard to engage his young teenager because he always gets the “OK” answer. So I asked, “What then did you do?” He said, “Oh, then I tried to ask questions like, ‘Would you like to tell me how your day has been?’ or ‘How’s school?’ and so on.” But all his well-intentioned questions yielded the same response - blank looks, short answers and silence. Frustrated and disappointed, he wondered, "Do you get real answers when you ask a question?"
I suggested he could try injecting positive presuppositions in his questions or suggestions:
- "What was the best thing that happened at school today?"
This presupposes that there were lots of good things that happened at school today.
- “... so what did you say that you think was encouraging to your friend?"
This presupposes that there were numerous positive things said in a reported conversation and you are trying to help him identify the most helpful ones.
Reflection pointer for fathers to connect
Think about the most recent conversation you have had with your child. Are you interested to know what is going on in them ie in what they think and feel or are you unconsciously trouble-shooting? If you are doing the latter, you can curtail it by injecting positive presuppositions in your questions and conversations.
Action pointers for fathers to connect
Practise asking open-ended questions with embedded positive presuppositions and see how your child reveals his inner world to you. Be affirming and encouraging regardless of what your child says and your bond would strengthen as a result.
Other issues explored in "Fathering Matters":