Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Language of Children

A bit back I read a post on MMB by Braden Bell entitled, Getting What You Want in Your Marriage regarding communication.   He addressed the situation where women (in general) drop hints rather than asking directly for something.  I probably drop hints more often than I think I do because I've always figured it was the more polite way to ask for something.  I guess I've felt that if I have to say, "Honey, will you grab the screaming baby out of my arms so I can put the gallon of milk back in the fridge?" it would insult my husband's intelligence because shouldn't it be obvious that if I were holding a screaming child while trying to get the milk back in the fridge, that I would need help?  Well, apparently, it's better to ask specifically, than to assume that my husband will know that I need help.

As I've thought dropping hints was the superior way to communicate, rather than to insult someone's intelligence, I was surprised when Bell suggested this type of communication was inferior and ineffective compared to just asking.  (OK, maybe he didn't actually say inferior and ineffective, but he definitely didn't favor hinting!)

OK, now to my point.  I just started reading Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott.  Chapter One is entitled, "The Code of Communication."  On page 5, Ginott suggests that children speak "in a code that requires deciphering," and on page 6 mentions children asking "hidden questions."  I was intrigued because the language of children sure sounded a lot like the communication of (some) women.  If that is true, and there are more similarities between the way children and women communicate, doesn't that give a bit of weight to mothers being the primary nurturers?

My next question is, so when do boys stop speaking the "language of children" and move onto the more direct language of men(/adults)?


Cheryl said...

Such a great question! I don't think I've ever thought of that connection before, either. I'm going to think about this some more (and hopefully practice it, too!).

P.S. Now that I think about it, I am constantly teaching my children to "content communicate" -- to just say what they mean/want directly, and yet I never put two and two together that I need to do it, too! Ha!

Amanda said...

Oh my gosh! I totally do that and it drives my hubby crazy! I have tried being more direct because as he says, "I am not a mind reader, just ask me." Oi!

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

Hm. It makes me wonder if there could be another way to look at it, that is, that we as women, as primary nurturers, need to learn to communicate as adults so we can help our children learn to do the same. ;)

This was an interesting post. Thanks!

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Oh, I thought you were going to say that it was proof that women speak the purer language...! :)

I think I am actually pretty direct with my husband. My mom taught me young "You don't ask, you don't get!" And since hubby didn't pick up on subtle hints...I just started spelling it out for him! Men and women do communicate very differently. I think that changes when women spend time in a professional setting that's when children's language pattern changes as well...when they enter the world!

Stephanie said...

I wonder if the language of dropping hints is really the language of women, as a general rule, or if it's just the language of a more passive aggressive personality type. For instance, with my husband and I, the communication issues we had earlier in our marriage stemmed from him dropping hints, and me preferring direct communication.

In any event, thanks for the post. Sorry I haven't commented in so long. I've been MIA from the blogging world for a while :)

Emily said...

You may be right, Steph. I'd guess more women are prone to drop hints (passive-aggressive) than men, so maybe we attribute it to women when we should look at the behavior not the sex. I went to your blog Sun to see if I'd missed anything it's been so long!! Take care!

Stephanie said...

I think your right that generally women are more often passive aggressive. I wonder why that is - is it training we give to girls, or is it just something more often in a female's nature? I'm not sure.

kels said...

I've always been a really direct communicator, so on the whole I've had a hard time relating to the so-called "womanly" communication problem of hint-dropping. Anyway it could be that kids are picking up on the passive aggressive nature from the many moms who tend to communicate that way-- when I have kids it'll be interesting to see what their communication style is! :) Like many things, I feel communication is a combination of natural and learned behavior.