He heard my footsteps on the stairs and ran. I heard the bathroom door slam and then lock. Did that really happen? My son just ran when he heard me coming, and he refused to come out and talk to me. I’m mom. I was devastated. What had happened to our relationship?

As I struggled to put the pieces together, I replayed in my head our last few conversations. “Is your homework finished? Did you make any new friends at school today? What grade did you make on your science report? Are you playing that video game again?” 

We weren’t having conversations; we were having “versations.” I was interrogating, not talking and certainly not listening to a struggling middle-schooler. I was responsible for the damage of this emotional wake.

Boy BoatingThat very day I made a commitment never to do that again. I started with an honest, sincere apology and told him I would have run from me too! I reminded myself in the future to slow down, observe what had his attention when I approached, and find other things to talk about that were in the “safety zone” before discussing more sensitive topics.

Always look behind your boat and check your wake.

In the last 30 days, considering those relationships that matter most to you, how would you describe the quality and candor of your conversations?

It takes courage and commitment to connect at a level that builds trust and respect. Are you willing to say what you are really thinking?  Are they?

If not, it may be time to return to shore and check for damage.

Create a Safety Zone

We’ll explore ways to create a safety zone in my next post.