When my son was young, he wanted me to lie with him at bedtime for “two minutes” every night. Of course, he would drag these two minutes out as long as possible. Sometimes he was just delaying going to sleep. Though this was often a time when he would share with me, ask the harder questions and our conversations would go deeper. So, in a way I didn’t mind that this practice lasted into my son’s high school years. I knew that this time was not going to last forever. It’s so important to value and create caring conversation with your children.
Why caring conversations matter
Caring Conversation is one of the four key faith practices that came out of the doctoral work of Rev Dr David Anderson which he’s written about in three of his books.
Conversations with our children show that we care and that what they think and feel is important. If we can listen well to the ‘everyday’ conversations about anything and everything, this will show our children that we care about what is happening in their world. We’ll get a glimpse into what’s going on in their lives and what’s concerning them.
Caring conversations is expressing an interest in others, their hurts, their joys, their concerns and dreams, their values and faith. Listening and responding to the daily concerns of our children makes it easier to have meaningful conversations about what really matters. Through having caring conversations with your children, you can build a bond so that when they have a problem, they will hopefully be able to talk about it with you.
Where Caring Conversation Can take Place:
At bedtime, children will often be looking for an excuse to delay the process. However, it’s also a time that they may open up to you about anything that is concerning them. The bedtime routine can allow for space to talk, whether it’s while brushing teeth, reading a story or when you want to turn the light out.
Studies show that kids who eat family meals and engage in conversation with adults tend to do better in school and have fewer problems. Mealtimes are a great way for kids to practise having conversation.
You can be intentional about dinner conversation with questions that are used regularly. Sharing highs and lows was something we did with our children when they were younger. Each person got to share a high for the day and a low of the day. It didn’t matter if it was similar things over several days; it helped open up conversation and we found out more about each other’s days. More recently, I’ve heard about highs, lows & buffaloes. ‘Buffaloes’ being something unusual, random or interesting that has happened during the day.
- In the Car
Children often have lots to say whilst you’re in the car, as there is not as much else to do, and you’re a captive audience. Though sometimes they may ask questions that you’ll have to answer later, as you’re busy concentrating on driving!
Boys in particular, may open up better when you are having conversation alongside them or while doing something else and not face-to-face. So, conversations whilst building or working together, lying down in bed, or whilst driving in the car are important.
Make the time
Caring conversation with your children requires us to be available to listen and to respond. We need to make the time where we can. You can’t always respond immediately though, and sometimes you may need to say “Can we talk about this later?”. If you do this, ensure you do come back to the topic later; make a time and do it.
We need to claim this essential talk time especially as our children grow up; whether it’s at dinner time, meal times, bedtimes or another time. It’s an investment in your relationship with them.
So, when and where do caring conversation take place with your children? If you are thinking “this is not an issue, my children talk to me all day!” then consider as they get older how you can hang onto that.
Stafford MOPS Kids Coordinator
Jillian has been married to Murray for over 25 years and they have 2 young adult children. She has been blogging at www.feedmyfamilyblog.com for over 7 years. On the blog, she writes about feeding the family in body, mind, heart & soul. Jillian also enjoys speaking at women’s groups & conferences about parenting and nurturing children’s faith.