Raising {mini} Conversationalists

Note: This is the final post in our six-part “Back to School” series. To read other posts in this series, click here. Thanks for joining us!

Remember the times your parents would ask you what you did at school all day and you replied, “stuff”?  Well, that is what I did each time I was asked.  My other go-to was to say that everything was “fine.”

Lunch was fine.

The bus ride was fine.

The test I had studied for with the help of my parents was fine.

To be fair, sometimes “fine” did cover it; however, many times, that one-word answer was  just covering up the reality of my day.  Lunch was fine for me, but a friend got picked on terribly.  The bus ride drove me crazy because an hour to and from school was ridiculous. The test was hard and I was afraid I hadn’t passed.

Did my parents yearn for more than stuff and fine?  Now that I am the one asking the questions, I am pretty sure that they did. I didn’t understand then that they weren’t just asking to ask; they were asking because as a former teacher, my mom knew that the lunchroom can be a danger zone outside of an adult’s supervision.  She knew that the bus ride was very long and that I was the only girl my age on the bus. In the time that my parents spent reviewing test materials with me, they easily would have been able to take the test for me.  It is funny how parenting your own kids can suddenly make you completely aware that your parents were trying to do their best by you. (Maybe not all parents … but mine sure did.)

So, in the hope of raising children that will give me more than stock answers, I made a conscious decision when my first born was little to really talk with him and his siblings and teach them how to be conversationalists.  I opened myself up to any and all questions.  Trust me, I have answered some doozies!  Yes, I have to go to The Great and Almighty Google from time to time. I might ask for some time to get back to them or I might ask them to help me find the answer, but I always answer – even if I am uncomfortable with the subject or feel confronted in my beliefs and understanding.  Sometimes, I even get to make the call to my parents to ask them for a consult! I have lost track of how many things I have learned or beliefs I have changed because of talking openly with my children.

I always answer.

images-42Now with three kids, I feel like it is just what we do – we talk a lot.  We ask questions back and forth with one another.  We talk about events, good or bad and how they make us feel.  We make agreements and plans together for what we will do next or what needs to happen going forward.  Hopefully, the three of them learn sooner than I did that their parents are so in love with them that they are praying, planning and wondering about them all the time – and that asking questions is never wrong.  Sharing stories and details is key to building connections and meaningful relationships. By modeling and teaching active listening, we can ensure that there will be kind, good people in the world.

In the past eleven years, I don’t know of many times that my kids have answered with “stuff” or “fine.” Here’s hoping that we can stay open in the years to come. Middle school is quickly approaching – bring on the questions …

What are some ways you encourage and facilitate discussion with your children? Let us know by commenting below!

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4 Responses to Raising {mini} Conversationalists

  1. Tonya
    Tonya August 22, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    I am the mom of a mini conversationalist! Javan LOVES talking … even more so, he loves thinking. I am excited to see how this aspect of his personality develops in the years ahead! I hope that he always feels comfortable sharing conversations with me.

  2. Jennifer August 22, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Although loving and caring, the family I grew up in did not talk much! I am in love with the sound of my own voice now, and LOVE to talk. I have challenged myself to LISTEN to my children and ask open ended questions. My oldest started Kindergarten 8 days ago. So far, so good. He is a talker and will answer questions like, “What did you do in Art today?”, or “What was fun about school today?”, and “Who did you play with today/what games did you play at recess?” Great article Kristin! I am challenged by you to stay curious and keep asking questions!

  3. Amy Castillo August 22, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I love curiousity! Thank you, K for sharing. Too many times I find myself rushing through life and not listening. Love 7 and 3 year old conversations — most of the time I find out something new about them and their view of the world.

  4. BJ Wenzel August 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    This is such a great reminder to slow down and enjoy the questions and conversations now. The foundation of conversation is established while our kids are young. If we don’t start now, there won’t be anything to help them talk with us when they become teenagers.

    I found this website full of fun open ended questions to spark conversations with our kids. I love the question: What would you do if you were invisible for a day? For the record, Erin would dance crazy. That led to a fun demonstration for us all to enjoy! Thanks Kristin!

    http://leladavidson.hubpages.com/hub/Top-50-Open-Ended-Questions-for-Sparking-Conversation-With-Kids