Talk with your kids about the important stuff
Your children are like anyone else. They want to… they need to… they LONG to – TALK about what’s going on inside them. As a mom or dad, you need to learn to talk to your kids about things that truly matter.
What are the things that really matter?
- God (and the things of God)
- Their thoughts and ideas (intellectual)
- Their fears and hopes (emotional)
- The people they share life with (parents and siblings)
- The situations they face (life)
It can be very difficult to talk about these things… especially as your children get older.
My suggestion: START WHILE THEY ARE LITTLE.
The more “used to it” they are by the time they reach the teen years, the more un-weird it will seem to them.
How to talk with your kids
Let’s take each of the bullets from above and I’ll give you some examples of what I might do to talk with my kids on the subject…
God (and the things of God)
- Most importantly, I’d talk about Him as if He’s real… because He is. My kids need an example of what it means to “walk with God.” I’m the one to give it to them. That’s THE KEY TO RAISING GODLY KIDS.
- Secondly, I’d talk about God regularly, demonstrating that He’s part of MY everyday life. My kids need to get used to the idea that God is involved in everything – small to great!
- I’d talk about what makes Him happy, what makes Him sad, what He is very, very pleased with, and what He hates. This helps my kids learn what God is like, which they desperately need to know.
- I’d teach them that God is always at work around them (because He is), and how to begin “watching” for what God is doing. Then I’d ask them about what they’ve seen God doing from day to day. I’d encourage them to join Him in His work.
And I’d make sure that I take the initiative to talk about these things… that is part of what it means to be a parent. I teach them what they need to know about God…
Their thoughts and ideas
- I’d ask them about the things that I know they like (legos, video games, dinosaurs, baby dolls, whatever). I want to know WHY they like it, what it is about it that is appealing to them. This helps me know them better, which in turn helps me to know better how to guide them according to the way they should go.
- I’d pay particular attention to the things they do well in at school. Science? Math? Literature? What is it that they seem to be drawn toward? I want to know, so that I can encourage it… and point out to them that it may be an area the LORD has wired them for… a way they may be able to bring great glory to Him.
- I’d begin to ask questions about those things… (“You really like to draw. What do you like about it?” OR “I noticed that you put a lot of time and energy into building that huge, lego Godzilla. Why was it so important to you?”
- If I noticed that they were showing interest in something I know little about, I’d ask them to teach me about it. They will be amazed at… #1) that I’d even ask, and #2) that they can actually teach their dad something. After they teach me, I’d be sure to encourage them about what I see the LORD doing in them in that area.
Their fears and hopes
This one can get a bit difficult, because it’s a ton more subjective than homework or legos.
But you have to help them go into this realm.
As my friend Rob Rienow has said, “When you ask your kids why they did something, and they say, ‘I don’t know,’ they are probably telling the truth.”
You need to help your kids understand the jumble of junk that goes on inside them from day to day. They need your help in order to sort it all out.
So ask them these kinds of questions…
- When you did that were you feeling angry? frustrated? irritated? sad? mistreated? (kids often need the “multiple choice” format to help them discover what they are feeling.
- What makes you feel the most secure? What makes you feel the most afraid? (I’d follow these up with conversation about God’s love and power… our ultimate source of security).
The people they share life with (parents & siblings)
There are many things you could talk about here… these are just a few ideas…
- How do you think your little/big sister is doing? Is she encouraged or discouraged lately? Is she struggling with anything? How do you think we could best pray for her?
- How are you feeling about me (or anyone else)? Are there any things I’ve done to make you feel unloved? unaccepted? like I’m angry at you? (these conversations are necessary and POWERFUL).
- Tell me about your friends at school and church. Who do you enjoy the most? What is it about them that you like? Who do you have a hard time loving? Why do you think it’s so hard?
The situations they face
- How do you feel when you have to prepare for a test? Stressed? Calm? Nervous? Confident? – follow up with scriptural truths to build their faith.
- Do you ever feel afraid when we (fill in the blank) – go on trips? Drive fast on the highway? Have to be out at night? Leave you with a baby-sitter? Stay overnight at a friend’s house?
- Do you feel worried about anything?
Conversations are vital. Your children need them at least as much as you do…