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May 17, 2018

Rarely look ‘em in the eye

Among all the pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever given, the one that raises the most eyebrows (ahem) is this:


Rarely look your children eye-to-eye.


Yes, there are times both necessarily serious, or beautifully emotional, to connect with your respective “windows of the soul.” But keep those times rare. Why? Because looking someone in the eye is a very intimate gesture between equals, but it’s a very intimidating gesture when there’s a natural power differential. Remember how you felt when your teacher stared down at you? Your own parents? Your boss now?


You are above your children in the natural hierarchy of the family, and if you want to invite them to open up and share more, you need to tone down anything that overtly communicates that power. Instead, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your son or daughter, both metaphorically and literally. Get down on the floor and build a Lego project with them. Get in the car and drive, or go shopping, or throw the football around, then open up the lines of discussion.


Then, if you dare, save the intimacy for your equal in the home. Go stare your spouse down eye-to-eye, tell ‘em you’ve been thinking about them all day, and then kiss them for 8 whole seconds.


Trust me.


Peace begins with pause,