Ask Them to Teach
Are you having problems connecting with your children?
You may have tried to take one out for lunch or take one for a walk, and they remained silent most of the time. Monosyllabic. Sometimes companionable silence can be a good thing, but it can’t be the only thing.
Why does it feel like you have to get the jaws of life to pry open their mouth?
Ask yourself a few questions:
Whenever they have tried to talk to me in the past, have I shut them down? You might think there will always be a next time, but what if that was the last time?
How excited did I act the last time they talked to me about something? Were you disinterested? Did you act like it was no big deal? When he showed you the new toy he got from McDonald’s, did you just shrug your shoulders?
Whenever we talk, does it always devolve into a lecture? Yeah, you have a lot to teach. But have you listened? Have you spent time with your children with absolutely no ulterior motive?
If you answered any of these in the affirmative, then you might have some damage control to do.
Our children are tender. Like a growing sapling, too much stress will cause it to break. Nurture it properly, and it will grow deep roots and become resilient.
What is the easiest way to get your kid to open up?
Ask them to teach you something.
If you ask them to teach you about something they love, they will not shut up about it. You will be drinking from the firehose.
But it has to be something they love. You can’t be sneaky about this. You can’t trick them into accidentally reviewing their schoolwork.
You can’t go up to your son and say “Hey, can you teach me about Latin verb conjugation endings.” Even if your son is a Latin nerd, that won’t work.
It’s going to be something you probably don’t care about much. A video game. Toy collectibles. A book series you have never read.
“Can you teach me about your Hatchimals?”
If you want her to spend her money on something else, who cares? Now is not the time for lectures.
“Can you teach me about all of the clans in your Warriors books?”
If you want her to branch out and read more books, keep your mouth shut. Let her be excited.
“Can you teach me how to play Minecraft?”
This means you sit down, pay for the game, and install it on your computer. Even if the thought of playing a video game fills you with dread, you have to ask yourself what you care about more.
If you think he spends too much time playing video games, too bad. Now is not the time to bring it up. Besides, he will only take your admonitions to heart if he trusts you. He will only listen to you if he knows you listen to him.
So do that first.
Sit down. Learn from them. Join them in their excitement.
Ask them to teach you and grow closer.