Question: You’ve often said that boys and men are usually not natural communicators. Boy, does that describe the “men” in my life!
What can I do to keep everyone talking to one another?
Dobson: Every family needs at least one highly communicative person in the home, and it looks like you are the one.
Many boys are inclined to bottle up whatever frustration they are carrying inside.
Unless you take the initiative to pull them out, some of them may withdraw within themselves and stay there emotionally.
I urge you to do whatever is required to get into your son’s world.
Keep talking and exploring and teaching.
Communication is the goal. Everything depends on it.
In 1990 Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi army invaded the tiny, oil-rich country of Kuwait and subjected its people to terrible brutality.
Their troops were poised to attack Saudi Arabia and thereby control half the world’s oil supply. U.S. President George H.W. Bush demanded repeatedly that Hussein withdraw his forces, but he stubbornly refused.
Thus, on Jan. 17 of the following year, Operation Desert Storm was launched.
Several hundred thousand allied troops attacked the Iraqi army from land, sea and air.
What do you think was the first objective of the battle?
You might expect it to have been Saddam’s tanks, or his planes or his frontline soldiers. Instead, the allies destroyed the Iraqis’ communication network. Stealth bombers smashed it with smart bombs and other weapons.
In so doing, our forces interfered with the ability of the Iraqi generals to talk to each other. They had no way to co-ordinate their effort or direct the movements of their army. The war ended a few weeks later.
What happened in Desert Storm has direct relevance for families.
When the communicative link between members breaks down, they become disorganized and distant from each other. If husbands and wives stop talking to each other or if parents and children grow silent, they slip into misunderstanding and resentment. Steel-reinforced barriers are erected, and anger prevails. For many families, this is the beginning of the end.
Let me urge you mothers to talk regularly to your sons (and, of course, to every other member of the family).
It is a skill that can be taught. Work hard at keeping the lines of communication open and clear. Explore what your children and your spouse are thinking and feeling.
Target your boys, especially, because they may be concealing a cauldron of emotion. When you sense a closed spirit developing, don’t let another day go by without bringing hidden feelings out in the open. It’s the first principle of healthy family life.