Children long to feel connected in a special way to those they love most. You know what I’m talking about. Those moments when you and your spouse share a laugh and no one else knows what’s funny. When you and a friend have one of those conversations where you really feel heard.
Children and teens want the same opportunity to connect in intimate and special ways with their parents and siblings, they want that ‘family feeling’.
When we share what we’re learning and what we feel with our children we give them that opportunity to feel this intimacy. When they feel it, it opens a gate to trust and can help them process what is happening in their lives.
Mini-conversations are the perfect
way to share
Here’s a mini-conversation about the book Lord of the Flies, held during a family meal. There’s a lot in this book that makes you think. There’s plenty that’s ugly and possibly frightening. So, can you really talk to a four-year-old about it, an eight-year-old or even a twelve-year-old? My answer would be YES, you can and should. Mini-conversations are perfect for broaching hard or sensitive topics. If you recall the tips that make a mini-conversation work, you can tell why.
• Listen more than you talk
• Ask open-ended questions
• Listen with interest
• Listen without judgment or giving your opinion
Lord of the Flies Mini-Conversation
Dad: I’m reading a book Called Lord of the Flies. I don’t like the story very much. It’s sad.
Eight-year-old: What’s it about dad?
Dad: Well, it’s about some boys who are stranded alone on an island. They don’t have any grownups with them.
Twelve-year-old: What’s sad about that? I’d love to be on an island without any grownups. That would be awesome.
Dad: Well, being able to do whatever you want might be good for a while, but what if one of the boys talked a lot of the other boys into believing or acting in ways that were mean to some of the other kids.
Four-year-old: That’s bad, daddy.
Eight-year-old: What did the boy want them to do?
Dad: Well, they really teased one boy who was overweight.
Twelve-year-old: We have a girl in our class that gets teased a lot. I’m glad I’m not her.
Dad: Hmmm, I guess we don’t have to be on an island for people to make poor choices.
Four-year-old: I wouldn’t be mean to people dad.
And that conversation could go on for a while and take several twists and turns.
A Second Mini-Conversation
Now let’s jump to the next day and a second mini-conversation. Dad and his twelve-year-old son are weeding in the garden.
Twelve-year-old: Dad, tell me some more about that book.
So, dad gives a brief synopsis. There is a long silence as they weed.
Twelve-year-old: Dad, do you think that Piggy would have been killed if more of the boys had stood up and said what they really thought about it?
Dad makes a comment. There’s another long silence as they weed.
Twelve-year-old: Dad, did you ever have a situation when you didn’t know what to do?
Dad: Sure, everyone does. What’s up, John?
Twelve-year-old: Well, there’s this kid in school and he keeps asking me and Fred…………
And there you have it, the value of sharing what you’re learning with your children by having “mini-conversations”. John will read “Lord of the Flies” sometime when he’s older. It will mean a great deal more to him than if it had just been assigned, tested and graded.
That initial mini-conversation also enabled John to connect with and trust his dad. Their relationship was strengthened. And the information from the book his dad was reading is having a positive impact on his own personal decision making.
We as parents need to be learning, and then we need to engage our children, our families, in conversations. When we do we begin creating that intimate family feeling. And as we do this we’ll all learn a great deal more and we will bond in some wonderful and unexpected ways.