“So, how was your day?” “Fine” or “Good” is usually the typical response. In spite of all the articles floating around Facebook with better questions to ask your children at the end of the day, I just can’t seem to remember any of them and always end up resorting to the old standby. Many days the kids are excited to tell me about something that happened like whose birthday it was or something unexpected that happened (rainy day schedule!). Other days I settle for fine/good and hope that later on we can have a more meaningful conversation.
Parents want to know what is going on with their kids. It’s a very interesting transition that occurs when your child starts to spend more time away from you than they do with you. As a parent you think about them and wonder throughout the day, what are they doing. Naturally when you pick them up you want them to fill in the blanks of what happened while you weren’t around. But it’s not always easy. At the end of the day kids are tired. Like you, they just want to get home to a safe, comfortable environment where they can relax. Recounting the details of their day is not a high priority for them.
What’s a parent to do? I recently read an article that encouraged parents to spend 10 minutes a day with their child doing whatever the child wanted. If you have multiple children, you’d spend 10 minutes with each individually. I found this interesting because if it had said “find time every day to spend one-on-one time with your child”, I would have thought there is no way we have time for that. But 10 minutes a day – that at least seems in the realm of possibility. The important part of this exercise is that it is the child’s choice. (If that means you spend 10 minutes watching them build another block house in Minecraft, then that’s what you do – just try not to get too dizzy.) Even if you are not able to do this every day, allowing your children to take the lead and show you something important to them will open up the lines of communication.
A few months ago, someone sent me a link to The Key Jar. The key jar contains thoughtful questions that have become a staple during Sunday night dinners at our house. Everyone at the table has to answer and it has led to some very interesting conversations about what we are afraid of and why, or what things we want to accomplish before our next birthday. At first I thought the questions might be too difficult, but I was wrong. I have been surprised at the thoughtfulness of my children’s responses and the in depth conversations that we’ve had around these topics.
Of course these activity ideas are all good and work in the moment, but what many of us want is for our daughter/son to come to us in the unplanned moments. We want them to open up to us about the challenges that they may be having with their friends or their fears/insecurities that are creeping into their thoughts. All of our children are different. There is no sure fire solution that is going to get them to talk to us and what works one day, may not work the next. Often it’s the quiet moments in the car or right before bed that allow the opening for the conversation to begin. Opening up and sharing about your day and your feelings could also be the green light they need to start a conversation. Your efforts are not going unnoticed. They see that you show up for them every day and are there to support them. When they are ready to talk, they will know where to find you.
p.s. You may be thinking, the blog is great, but I could never do that! I disagree and am here to help! Let’s schedule a 30 minute consultation to define what matters most to you right now and create a plan on how to spend more of your time doing that. Email me at email@example.com and we’ll work out the details.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.