Recently I have run across a number of articles and talks that address the questions I as a parent ask my child and how those questions affect them. It got me thinking, as my kids are tween and teen aged and I no longer seem to have any input into their lives.
I don’t think I am any different from any other parents in that my questions are usually one of these:
- Did you do your homework?
- Is your room clean?
- Did you put gas in the car?
- Did you get your chores done?
- Where is your sister?
- Why did you do that?
- What do you want for supper?
- How was your day?
None of these questions are very deep and none of them generate much for conversations. No wonder I feel like my kids are slipping away.
Maybe if I change the questions I will change the conversations. So what should I be asking them?
“What did you do today that helped you become a better person, physically, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually?” (Thank you Matthew Kelly)
The first time I asked my youngest that question she looked at me like I had grown an extra head.
Obviously she didn’t have an answer.
Sadly, I was too scared to ask her again. It felt really awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t like feeling awkward and uncomfortable – I am the parent and I am supposed to be all knowing. (Yea my kids don’t buy it either.)
So I am moving on to plan B. The next time one asks me if she can go to the mall I am going to do what my mother did when I was a teen:
“What do you think?”
Now when she said that what she meant was, “Is this going to somehow make you a better person or otherwise improve your life?”
No matter what age a person is, they instinctively know if a particular activity is going to make them a better person or not. That is different than if it will make them happy. For example a question I ask myself a lot:
Should I exercise today?
Will it make me a better person? Yes
Will I actually get my butt off the couch and go exercise? Maybe, maybe not, but I know what I should do. That is the first step.
What questions do you ask yourself every day?
- Should I wear that to work?
- Should I hit the snooze one more time?
- Starbucks or Caribou?
- Should I wear those shoes?
- Should I watch television?
- What should I eat for lunch?
- Should I open up Facebook?
- Should I share that photo?
- Should I call my Mom?
The answer to each of these questions is going to vary by person and circumstance, but thinking about what will make you a better person can make the process much easier.
Part of being a parent is to teach my children how to make the right decision – but how can they do that if I am always making those decisions for them? I need to help them make the right decisions by asking them the right questions.
Of course that doesn’t mean I can’t start a fun conversations with,
“Do you think our family would survive a zombie apocalypse?”