Monday, February 15, 2010

listen so your kids will talk

dear emily,

when we started sending our children off to school, we
made the mistake of asking, "how was your day?"

"fine."

"well, what did you learn in school today?"

"nothing."

not a great start, but we were fast learners, and instead we
began asking, "what were two good things that happened
today and one hard thing?" or "tell us the favorite lesson
you learned today."

that went a little better.  joe white of the kanakuk camps
teaches parents to ask open ended questions with follow
up queries like, "wow, how did that make you feel or
how did you think of that?"

he calls it  "how to listen so your kids will talk."  it's much
harder to do than you would think.  i'm pretty terrible at it.

since you still have young ones, who ask a million questions
a day, you can hardly imagine monosyllabic answers from
them. i remember thinking, "my teenagers will never be like
those  in movies."  it's heart breaking until you realize, they
can't really help it.  their bodies are going crazy on them, and
they have to battle tough kids all day.

remember "freaky friday?"  it's good to try to put ourselves
in their shoes every now and then.  after that, just listen to
them and don't always tell them the better way to do every-
thing.  they want someone on their side.  they want a safe
place where people love them and believe in them.

one of our dear ones dropped a bomb on us recently, and
it was the hardest thing in the world to just listen and
encourage, when i was dying inside to holler, "are you
kidding me?" the truth is that i trust this child's heart and
know he/she will come out on top.

love,
lea

"children are a reward from Him," psalm 127:3

19 comments:

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

This morning, I sent my almost 19 year old back to college after a long weekend. Per usual, I ask each of my college sons if I can pray for them prior to their departure; I want our final moments to be a benediction of prayer and blessing. I do the same with my young children, but in a different, less-adult kind of way.

Just a different take on communicating with our kids... not only with their arrivals home, but with their departures as well.

Benedictions. Ours to give. Theirs to remember. Better speak them well, don't you think?

peace~elaine

Anonymous said...

I used to do this with my kids too, around the dinner table. Tell me two good thngs, or two funny things, not so good things or sometimes I would mix it up. It really helped!!

Auntie Cake said...

So sweet. We also learned long ago not to ask how the day went, what they learned because we kept getting the same responses. Now we too ask, tell us two things you studied, what was hard, what was funny, happy/sad.

Have a great week!
Kate
PS- and sometimes those "bombs" have a way of turning into a blessing:)

zach+kate said...

great post lea!

the gypsy chick said...

This is so great lea! It took me a few years to ask my oldest child leading questions. Now I try to through her off and sometimes ask her what was your favorite part of your day, ok, what was your not so favorite part and why. Sometimes it throws them off a little and they laugh...
amy

Jennifer said...

Such wonderful advice! For several years now we have done what we call "best thing/worst thing" at the dinner table. Each of our children has the chance to tell us the best and worst about their day. Sometimes this leads to entertaining discussions and sometimes they open up and spill their hearts.

Miss Sandy said...

Sweet advice to those still training tender young hearts. My two are now grown and have homes of their own but they still come to us for advice because they know we will listen and when needed prayerfully respond.

Vee said...

Wonderful advice...hope that the bomb-dropper works it all through. I'm loving being able to truly communicate with my grands now. It's so much fun to have that give and take. I'll try to employ these methods. As a teacher, I always liked asking children, "How could you have worked that out for a better outcome?" "What would you say to someone about that?" "If you did know the answer, what would it be?"

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Excellent advice!

**WE BLOG ARTISTS** said...

A wonderful lesson to all of us with little ones...
THANK you for passing by yesterday...or Sunday...yes, it's Tuesday today...I loose track of the days.
It was lovely seeing a new face...so to say:-)
Char

Deborah Ann said...

Boy, do I ever hear you! We're going through that quiet stage right now with the grandkids. It's like pulling teeth getting them to talk!

Primitiques 'n Poetry said...

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment today. I appreciate the exposure to your blog! More perusing to come. ~Mindy

Zuzu said...

Great advice, Lea! My daughters had no problem communicating, but my son was the strong, silent type. I found that when the two of us went somewhere in the car, conversations really opened up and were very enjoyable!
Wishing you a lovely day,
Zuzu

Teri said...

I do this all the time, but today, I was distracted, so I asked the same ole, same ole questions, and guess what???? I got ONE SYLLABLE
answers!

Thanks for the reminder!

Farmgirl Paints said...

Loved this post. My girls do the same thing. So I have to think of more creative ways to get them to open up too. Sorry about the bombshell. Oh the ups and downs of parenthood. It's really hard!

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Wonderful words of wisdom... love hearing what goes on in the days of our children...now they are also out of our "nest", but still am thankful for our daily, (often multiple) phone conversations! Would love to live nearer to where they are all at!

Blessings & Aloha!

Amy said...

Wonderful advice. I am raising a teenager and I used to ask him what his favorite part of the day was and what was the worst. Now I have gotten into the habit of asking, "How was school?" and "What did you do in your classes?" I think I needed this reminder.

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

What wonderful advice! My 4 year old is already answering the post pre-school questions with those one-word answers...or "I don't remember". (Ha!) This seems like such a simple solution - but apparently I needed you to give it to me! :)

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Love the Freaky Friday illustration...oh, my heart jumped with your child's bomb announcement...so know that feeling, more times than I wish.
I am so glad God loves them more than we do.
Okay...that is all of the old post for tonight.
Enjoy...thanks for letting me get to know you more!