Julie Gowans and Patricia Hicken: Communicating with our sons and daughters

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“Building bridges” — an enduring phrase that will stick forever with mothers and women across BYU campus who were counseled regarding effective communication with their children.

Women attending this year’s Women Conference congregated in the Wilkinson Student Center’s ballroom Thursday, May 2, to hear Julie Gowans and Patricia Hicken share their views on ways to strengthen family relations.

For some mothers, it was not their first time in Provo for a Women’s Conference, such as Stephanie Daniel, a mother of four kids from Boise, Idaho.

Daniels said the most memorable point from the speakers was building bridges. She said, “The ways that we build bridges with our children so that they want to communicate with us.”

Hicken said that building bridges with one’s children is a responsibility every parent has. Children will probably not build bridges with you as a parent, so the parent must take that initiative.

Hicken gave three specific ways to build bridges.

“Build bridges of safe places, stop communicating negatively and replace that communication with love, acceptance and sensitivity,” Hicken said.

The second way is through time. Tess Paira, from Montana, said, “Building bridges by spending time with our families is one of the most important things we should remember. We can all spend a little more time with our kids, we just have to make a conscious effort to do so.”

Patricia expressed the importance of parents communicating their love by giving their undivided attention to their children, and creating opportunities to be involved in the interests of your children. “The time we spend with our children, attending their activities and attending to their needs — even when it is seemingly inconvenient — communicates our sincere love to them,” Patricia said.

The language between parents and children should not be confounded and parents can have control of that. “The call waiting of our day is comparable to texting and social media. … We need to learn to speak their language!” Gowans said.

Gowans spoke about the five love languages: acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, gift giving and quality time. She related them to women as if they spoke French and their children spoke Mongolian — no matter how slow or “clear” parents speak, children will not understand parents if they do not speak their children’s language.

It was Denise Hewards’ first time at Women’s Conference. Hewards said the most important point was to simplify. She said, “Times can get so crazy that we don’t even effectively communicate!”

Gowans is a wife, mother and has her psychology degree from BYU. She also teaches high school and is a Sunday school teacher at her LDS Church.

Patricia Hicken is currently the wife of a stake president, mother, caregiver and has served in many church callings such as Primary president, Young Women’s president and counselor in Stake Relief Society presidencies.

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