As my daughter grows up she needs less and less of me to navigate her daily life. Because of this natural evolution I make it a point to talk to her one on one every day. This takes some planning and discipline since she has activities, friends, homework, carpool, etc. and I’m a little busy too.
Since I drive her to and/or from school several days a week, cook dinner together a few times a week and eat dinner together at least 5 times a week there are a lot of opportunities for meaningful conversations. In fact, our conversations are so important to me I typically have the radio muted while driving or the TV off if we are home as I ask her about her day and what is going on in her life. This time is so important
that even after I started driving carpool a few days a week I began engaging the other kids in the conversations. I’d typically ask things like
‘So Jenny what tests do you have today in school? Do you feel prepared?’
‘Misty how is your favorite teacher in school right now?’
As you can image at first my daughter was a be embarrassed, yet when I involved her in the conversations a bit of camaraderie around teachers and events often developed, especially if the kids in riding with us were in ah higher grade.
One of my favorite activities is to issue a ‘get outside your box’ challenge right before we get to school. Here are a few we have repeated over the years…
- Meet three new people today you did not know and tell me something unique about them when I pick you up?
- Tell you least favorite teacher that you appreciate the great job s/he is doing and all the work that goes into being a middle school teacher.
- Give 3 friends a hug today and compliment them saying something you have never shared before? (That’s a great hair clip. I love your smile. Cool shoes, etc.)
- Write a list of 5 things you are grateful about at school and share that list with 3 strangers today
- Sit with someone new for lunch that you have never shared a meal with before. Let me know their name and something about them tonight at dinner.
These conversations are phenomenal, not because of the answer to my challenge questions, but more importantly because she is sharing with em on a regular basis. Familiarity with us talking and me asking tough questions over the years has made conversations about relationships, puberty and sex even easier. The foundation is laid by communicating often and you purposely ramping up the topics over time making sharing natural.
Tell me about some of your best conversations?