Will That Make You a Better Person?


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.30

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?”

God Bless