As my girls are getting older, I’m finding my methods of communication with them have to change. What used to be a simple, “Want to talk about it?” has now turned into a much more elaborate dance. The first few answers usually involve shoulder shrugs and vague one-word responses, but I push through because I know there are gems waiting for me.
Do you “interview” your kids? It sounds sterile on paper, but when I have a list of questions I can use, we get past all the initial stuff much more quickly. Some of our most amazing conversations have come from having a deliberate time where we sit down together and do this.
What typically happens is that I make a list of questions ahead of time and then I sit them down individually (they answer differently this way. Ever noticed that?) at the table with a fun drink (hot chocolate is a favorite).
I always have a pen and paper to record any thoughts that I might need to tuck away. I start with surface-level questions so we can build up to the heavier stuff. For example, I might ask about their favorite part of the day or the best thing they’ve eaten recently. Even if they start out not being sure they want to be interviewed, they end up connecting during this phase because it’s just fun and doesn’t have any kind of emotion attached to it.
When I feel like we’ve laid some groundwork, I ask them about some of the harder things. This might include questions like, “Has anyone hurt your feelings lately?” or “Is there anything you’re afraid of?” My kids know that this is a safe zone. If it so happens that I’ve hurt their feelings, or there are some family issues that need to be discussed, they are free to bring those up in a respectful way. They are always encouraged to share anything that will lead to unity and peace in our house.
The last phase is the dreaming phase, and it’s a great way to leave them feeling encouraged about what’s next in life. We can dream radically, freely, and even ridiculously if we want to here (“If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?” “What is the best thing that could happen to our family today?”).
I throw in a lot of funny questions too because I feel like it opens them up. The bottom line is that we have to be intentional about talking to our kids about small things as well as big. Grab a notebook and start your interviews today.
What are your ideas for starting a great conversation with your kid?