Updated: Mar 25, 2020
I intimidate my children. That’s not easy to admit. In fact, I think I intimidate adults sometimes. I can be solidly set in my opinions and my ways. It is extremely difficult for me to take direction from others when it contradicts my own counsel. I personally feel like such a failure in my own life. That feeling of failure causes me to put a yoke of perfectionism around my children’s necks. Yes. I can be intimidating, and that makes it difficult for them to communicate with me sometimes. It’s no wonder that one of my children had a solution to this issue on her mind.
When I asked my children to come up with a business idea for our entrepreneurship class several years ago, my son came up with selling a family recipe for mumbo sauce. Lots of people know that story, as his business has taken off in real life. He’s got quite a following for his product. But my little Blaire, only six at the time, started Care Blaire Designs. Her flagship product was The Talking Box.
Blaire first called her creation the Non-Electric Phone. She insisted that it was a great idea. Overbearing as I was, I kept asking her to explain it more. The way she was describing it, I couldn’t understand the necessity of it. But finally she made me understand. There are times you can’t talk to your parents face to face, she told me. You could use a ‘non-electric phone’ to tell them what you are thinking. It began to make sense to me.
We went to Michael’s Arts and Crafts store. She purchased unfinished wooden boxes and painted them at home. When she sold the boxes, she included several sheets of paper on which the box owner could leave a note for someone. They write the note, put it in The Talking Box, and leave it for the person with whom they want to communicate. She didn’t sell very many boxes at the Business Fair. I think everyone was saving their coins for Andy’s mumbo sauce and his famous brookies! But right here in our home, she changed minds and she created a customer for life. Me, I’m her customer for life.
That Talking Box has lived next to my bed for the past five years. And we actually made somewhat frequent use of it. Now, she’s graduated to just speaking to me directly or handing me a note in person. Sometimes, it has been much to my chagrin. Some of the notes she has left have been rude. They’ve been misguided. They have demonstrated in writing that she has gotten my intentions all wrong. But you know what it has also done? It has illuminated areas where I needed to communicate better. It has given me growth opportunities to correct my own behavior. No matter my intentions, I am responsible for the systems I create. I won’t know what system I have created without her open feedback. Having The Talking Box has given her freedom to do that.
What measures have you put in place for open communication with those you love? What about those you respect? Or, those from whom you need cooperation like employees or other team members? Maybe you should head over to Michael’s and create your very own Talking Box.