Gregory Uba works with a non-profit agency in LA, Connections for Children, serving parents across a wide range of needs from parenting classes to referrals and financial assistance for child care services. 

While my particular brand of parenting support trends toward the mindful, spiritual and even esoteric, the approach I favor still boils down to thinking deeply in the service of working practically and pragmatically.  Folks like Greg keep me honest and grounded in challenging me to think about how the most at-risk parents could make use of ideas such as floated in this blog—as these parent often may be tasked with the care of some of the most at-risk of our collective children.  On the other hand, all kids struggle, and all parents struggle too, so whatever really helps any of us is likely to be of some value to all of us parents.

Therefore, in the spirit of grounded pragmatism, today we consider a tool to help parents cultivate a harmonious balance around discipline and communication:  the TALK – TELL card.

The Talk-Tell card, as Greg explained it, is a place for parents to keep track of their own behavior—and a very popular item in Connections for Children’s parenting classes.  Every time a parent has an engaged conversation with his or her child they tally on the talk side… every time they give an instruction (one way communication) they tally on the tell side.  The idea is that the card needs to have a fair balance at the least, and even, ideally, more tallies on the talk side.  This is a nice tangible way to me more mindful of engaging our children—the very aspects that help all manner of kids optimize their potential.

Given that I would prefer to teach by example I worry that a blog, by its very nature, may be rather tally-heavy on the tell side of things.  So, while I deeply appreciate your showing up to read, and I don’t really want to ask for comments for the sake of comments (especially if it’s not your thing to speak up in this sort of forum), please know that if you have anything at all to say, including negative things, as well as comments meant for other parents, I encourage you to treat this as a collective space and thus help us tally on the “talk” side of things. 

Perhaps take a reflective moment to really consider what you need as a parent, but may not be getting.  Even if you need more money, support, time or other things that a blog cannot directly provide, perhaps the possibility of being heard and understood by others might bridge some sort of gap?  In this way we can collectively support you, the parent, to talk more than tell with your child or children; and at the same time we can band together as parents to talk more than tell with each other.

So, let’s dedicate today to talking more than telling, to listening to our kids, each other and even to the subtle communiqués of the pulsing world—in honor of all our collective children.  To that end, I’ll be quiet now.

Tally ho & Namaste, Bruce 

To visit Connections for Children, or pass it along to those who might benefit, see:


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8 Responses to “Talk-Tell”

  1. Laurie Says:

    I’ve never been more worried about money in my life. I find myself giving knee jerk responses to my son wasting things; food, toys and money. The yogi breath has helped but not always. Also with the holidays quickly approaching and his wish list get longer it does eat a way at me. I am grateful for friends that are not feeling the crunch as much as we are as they getting some things on his list. We talk about how blessed we are with what we have. In this town with the ridiculous wealth and extreme poverty so much is in your face. Wow, a little vent in the a.m. Thank you for being there.

  2. privilegeofparenting Says:

    Thanks for showing up and being real.

  3. BigLittleWolf Says:

    I’ve been reading for awhile, and trying what you’ve suggested (as reflected in my retelling yesterday of my son’s courage). This is lovely of you – to offer (to so many) a place to voice what’s screaming inside. Money worries, kid worries, unemployment worries, legal worries, lack of insurance worries, health worries, relationship worries (if you have one) – and of course – at this time of year – plenty of loneliness to go around. (I’ll add broken dishwasher, leak in roof (and raining again), and laptop that’s experiencing a nervous breakdown to the more tangible list.

    All that said – for me – writing (even on my kid’s 9 year old desktop!) helps everything. As does humor. As does sleep. And add to that, your beautifully conveyed suggestions for breaking down barriers with our children, and seeing their world (and ours) in new ways.

    I love this idea of “Talk-Tell” – and I think I may try it with my son. He never fails to surprise me. And this seems like a brilliant and very measurable way to assess the nature of our communication with our kids.

  4. privilegeofparenting Says:

    As for the angst, I say bring it—in this way we just try to hold it collectively, maybe cook it down into treasure and at least skip the pretense of feigning as if we’re all good, I know I’m not; but I take great comfort in the collective effort that still manages to maintain a distinct voice for each of us, and at the same time a joined OM, or whatever syllable works, in hopes that our inter-relatedness and our consciousness will bring just the right sort of transformation, unfolding… or at least productive suffering.

  5. Kristen Says:

    I am intrigued by the idea of the talk/tell balance and wonder how it might evolve as a child gets older. Or perhaps I am justifying my own parent-directed style with my toddler and baby?

    I feel very lucky to have most of what I need and want as a parent and know that I am fortunate to have a life in balance (for the moment, at least). I have recently made some pretty dramatic shifts – working part-time and hiring childcare – but the journey to get to the point of recognizing those needs was a long one.

  6. Mwa Says:

    I suppose if you are worried about this being too talking, not showing, you could use more examples. (IF you are worried about it.)

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      That’s a good, and welcome, point. Jumping off of one of your recent posts, where the teachers at your son’s Catholic school told him that Mass was homework, even if you are supporting him to think for himself, “Tell” might be, “You don’t have to listen to everything your teacher says,” while “Talk” might be, “How did you feel when your teacher said this?” Tell doesn’t really invite a response, or and give-and-take, while Talk would be comments meant to draw our kids out and get them to talk.

      I’m very glad my post got you to Talk! And in that spirit, feel free to let me know if I’ve clarified or only muddied the waters even further 🙂

  7. Cathy Says:

    Talk? I could talk your ears off. How I wish I had you sitting here to listen!

    I have a beautiful, sweet and troubled 18 year old. He is suffering and I’m terrified of making a mistake while trying to relieve his suffering. My fear of making a mistake gets in the way of my attempt to do and say the right thing.

    Tonight I’ve learned that I need to talk. If I do that, maybe he will then tell me what he needs. Because that is all I want to know…what he needs from me.

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