So, life almost never goes quite the way we plan, and we had to mover our deadline... so all essays were due this morning. Here's Dad's Contribution!
My current life circumstance is that my daughter, The Divine Miss O, is having difficulty communicating with my wife and me. I do not believe that she is doing this consciously, but the effect is still the same, disturbing and frustrating.
The Divine Miss O’s go-to place is to hide behind the phrase “I don’t know”. This behavior of hiding behind “I don’t know” is causing a communication breakdown between us, which is making life very difficult.
My job as a father is to continually educate and encourage The Divine Miss O to be the best person that she can be; moreover, to help her be present in her life and to develop the skills she will need to do that. One of the skills, she will need in life, is to be a proficient communicator. So, when she uses the phrase, “I don’t know” it highlights for me that she still needs to work on her communication skills.
So, let us start with a question. What message does The Divine Miss O deliver and what does she achieve, when she says, “I don't know”?
When using the phrase, “I don't know” the meaning of each word on its own is clear and concise; it should simply mean just what it says - that I do not have that knowledge in my mind - and in some cases, that is exactly what is meant. However, that simple meaning of, "I do not have that knowledge in my mind," is not the message that Miss O sends. Especially when I am asking a question about her, personally.
Here is the message that I actually receive:
“I don't want to talk about this anymore so leave me alone!”
Which indicates an unwillingness to be involved any further in a conversation. This is a turtle mentality (to hide and run away) and hope that it will all just go away.
“I don't want to think about this so leave me alone!”
Which indicates an unwillingness to change, grow or make any kind of effort to understand my point of view. This is the disturbing and frustrating part.
“What you are talking about, doesn’t concern me so leave me alone!”
Which indicates that she does not care about anybody else and has a “Me” centered attitude.
These messages are what makes communicating with The Divine Miss O difficult, when she says, “I don’t know!”
This simple three-word statement of “I don’t know” has a lot of power to derail our conversations. By saying, “I don’t know” The Divine Miss O is putting up a barrier; and she is removing herself from the conversation. When she hides behind these words, she cuts herself off from the growth and learning that is always present in any conversation. Miss O limits herself to the small world that is in her head, and becomes oblivious to the joy of experiencing new thoughts and ideas... not to mention the waste of time, as we sit looking at each other waiting for the other person to say something. If that is what she is looking to achieve then congratulations, The Divine Miss O has accomplished her goal.
However, I do not believe that this is her goal, even though this is our current reality.
Therefore, to change this reality it is imperative that The Divine Miss O improves her communications skills and becomes more open to talking about the hard stuff. In addition, it is important for me to be conscious of her need to improve in her communication skills and to help her accomplish that improvement.
I believe that The Divine Miss O thinks many things, but does not say them because of “FEAR”! She may be silent because of the fear of looking stupid or of saying the wrong thing and hurting my feelings. I do not know the answer to that, however I know what it is like to be fearful, and to remain silent in the midst of that fear, and I am going to help her to overcome her fears by encouraging her and reassuring her that she has nothing to fear because I love her very much.
What should The Divine Miss O do to help her deliver the proper message and to improve her skills in communication? The best path to fixing this problem and deliver the proper message with positive results is by engaging in the conversation, by asking questions, and by telling me what she truly thinks and feels without holding back.
When I ask The Divine Miss O a question that is specific to what she thinks and feels I want to know about what she thinks and feels. She is the foremost authority on herself. There is no encyclopedia about The Divine Miss O for me to reference to gain access to her thoughts and feelings. She is a unique and beautiful individual with feelings and thoughts all her own. The only way to know what she is thinking and feeling is for her to tell me. Which is why it is important for her to build on her skills of communication. I think that The Divine Miss O is a smart and beautiful girl who should have lots of thoughts and feeling and not be afraid to share them with me.
So back to the original question, is there any value or merit in using the phrase, “I don’t know”?
I have to say that there is no value or merit to using the phrase, “I don’t know” because it limits, kills, confuses all communication between The Divine Miss O and me, which is counterproductive to everything that I am trying to teach her. I know that she has the capability to be a great communicator and my hope is that she can see it too. All I want is the best for The Divine Miss O and our family so that she has all the opportunities possible available to her in the future.
I really LOVE my Mr. and he is such a great Dad... he ticks off all the boxes!