But sometimes I lack the intention to just sit down with my child and “cuddle up” with their hearts, so to speak, even if they’re getting a little huge to cuddle. For a few weeks (and depending on how much you like them!–the ideas, not the kids), I want to give a few ideas you could use while you share a snack or favorite drink with your child, or just sitting on the porch swing or on a walk.
The idea is that amidst all the things we do for our children, we just take the time to know them a little better, to win their hearts. (After all, our obedience from God comes out of a heart of love, too.) An excellent resource from FamilyLife (Passport2Purity® Getaway Kit by FamilyLife – Version 3) once counseled that, like a shuttle reentering the atmosphere, we align our relationship with our child before we go into a period of time where we lose our ability to communicate (like the teenaged years can be). Making time and a secure space to talk about what’s real in our lives does more than improve our relationship now. It develops a firm bridge for us to walk on when things get rough.
These interviews are particularly helpful for those “words of affirmation”-love language kids—but as I tried these out on my kids, I was amazed at how many of them filtered into the room, eager to share their thoughts (so much for privacy). This can also help them learn vocabulary to communicate about stuff like this–which in my mind, can help my kids in their intimate friendships and marriages someday.
How to do it:
- Make it fun—not like another project.
- Keep it private, keep it fun, and most importantly, keep the atmosphere open. The goal is to listen and to make them feel heard. Defensiveness not allowed.
- If you hear of something you need to teach, consider seriously whether this is the right time and place. This isn’t a time you want them to regret, or avoid in the future. Asking them these questions is designed to build rapport and equity; good teaching costs some of that equity.
- Don’t get too flowery in your affirmation—you want your kids to be able to trust you and value your words—but as you have opportunity, encourage them.
- Sometimes they won’t exactly answer the question (see one of my kids’ first answers below!), but this can still give insight about what they want to talk about. See if you can gently steer them back.
- Don’t force it on days they don’t want to talk. Again–going for positive association here.
- Make some sweet memories. Build some anticipation for regular time together. I’ve only put ten questions in here, because the idea is to keep them wanting more–or leave space for conversation to spin off in other valuable, organic ways.
And now–the first round of questions.
- What did (does) your teacher do well this year? Is there anything you didn’t (don’t) like?
- What are five things you can see yourself becoming when you grow up?
- What’s a good book you’ve read lately? Why?
- What birthday was a highlight?
- Who’s one of your heroes? Why?
- Describe what a really great day would look like.
- What’s one thing God’s teaching you right now?
- What’s one thing that isn’t going right in your life right now?
- If I would change one thing as a mom (or dad), what would you like it to be?
- What’s one way I can pray for you?
And for fun—a few answers from my kids.
What did (does) your teacher do well this year? Is there anything you didn’t (don’t) like? (Trick question. I am their teacher. Still—I want to know.)
8-year-old: I don’t like math. I like geography, especially the landforms stuff we did.
What are the top five things you can see yourself becoming when you grow up? (Older children: What appeals to you about those?)
8-y-o: Probably an artist or a singer or a nurse or a photographer. I would like to work on a plane.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately? Why?
11-year-old: I like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series [The Chronicles of Narnia]. It’s written with a lot of humanity–like, how people really are–and adventure.
What was your best birthday ever?
8-y-o: My eighth, because I got to go out with you, and get pizza, and watch lots of movies and play lots of games.
Who’s one of your heroes? Why?
8-y-o: Jesus, because He loves us so much. And Dad is one of my heroes, too.
11-y-o: Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia, because in the book, this character asked, “Is Aslan safe?” When they said no, the guy asked, “Then why would you want to be around him?” “Because he is good.”
6-y-o: Batman. Because Superman has a weakness that’s Kryptonite, but Batman has Kryptonite just in case Superman is bad.
Describe your perfect day.
8-y-o: Probably my eighth birthday.
11-y-o: I think it would be on Christmas Day, because everybody is together, they’re all happy, everybody’s getting at least a little gift, and it was allegedly the day Jesus came into the world. Oh—and a sinless day. Nobody sins, whatsoever.
6-y-o: Going to Six Flags!
8-y-o: I would like to add Six Flags!
What’s one thing God’s teaching you right now?
8-y-o: He’s teaching me not to overreact. [Me too, sweetheart.]
What’s one thing that isn’t going right in your life right now?
8-y-o: Even though it’s summer break, it’s kind of boring. I would like to at least, like, do geography or something.
If I would change one thing as a mom (or dad), what would you like it to be?
8-y-o: Not have us do any chores.
11-y-o: Being more of what I would consider reasonable…
P.S. If you like this kind of post, share it! And I’d love to hear your kids’ responses in the comment section below.