Each conversation needs private, alone time without interruption. The door is shut, the phone is off; the speaker is assured of undivided attention, and feels safe knowing there is nothing more important, at that moment, than the issue being discussed. It is a time of close eye contact and active listening.
Such conversations cannot happen while domestic chores are being done or when the listener is playing on an i-pad or reading a text message. Often parents suggest that, “Doing chores together is what family life is all about”. If these chores are daily events that take away from one-on-one time with children, the vital threads of communication that connect family members are broken. It is difficult to talk about arguments with teenage friends while Dad is mopping the floor, or to explain why exam results are below expectations while Mum is putting away the cutlery.
Quiet moments of sharing give the speaker a surge of confidence. The daughter can talk about trouble with a teacher and know she will be given thoughtful advice, the father can explain why he’s had such a bad day and his son will sympathise.
These private exchanges between two family members are invaluable, for they ensure family members stay connected.