Drew and I have 4 kids. Half of them are middle-age teenagers and the other half made it through to the other side and are officially twenty-somethings. The baby, toddler and elementary years were physically exhausting. The tween and teen years are best described as mentally exhausting. I’ve found that as parents, Drew and I have to be proactive with communication. In the younger years they depended on Drew and I predominately for all their learning and understanding. Once the double digits begian they utilize their friends and social media to gather information and education. As parents we quickly recognized the need to be proactive with our efforts to keep the lines of communication healthy and open.
One of the ways that helps us accomplish that is with monthly lunch or dinner dates with our teenagers one on one. That means once a month Drew will pick up one of our kids during their school lunch hour and take them out to lunch. I do the same thing. I can in full confidence tell you we each do this at least once a month because we’ve both made it an individual goal for ourselves and we are both a part of a goal group that makes sure we actually do it.
It may sound weird to make it a goal to take your kid out to lunch. You may be thinking, what kind of parent has to make time with their kid a box to check off? In my 47 years circling the sun, one thing I’ve realized is that when humans get busy the people they most often cancel on are the ones they love the most because those are the people that tend to offer them the most grace. The next thing you know months have gone by and you haven’t connected with your teen, UNLESS you are intentional.
Recently during a lunch date with my 17 year old son conversation was running dry. He wasn’t initiating any talking points and the few I brought up were turning into a bit of a quarrel. That’s when I remembered a list of questions my dad had made a copy of and I’d screenshot with my phone. I thought, well, I’ll ask one question from the list and see how it goes. It wound up sparking a great conversation. When we finished that question my son asked me for another one. That went on until we’d discussed all the questions on the page.
I recommend not only making regular one on one time with your teenagers, but also asking these questions at least once a year. I found them from an article Tom Elliff wrote. I can’t locate the online link. However, the questions are below:
- How do you feel we are getting along together?
- What are some things I could do to improve our relationship?
- Do you believe I really care about you as a person or just how you behave?
- Have I ever made a promise to you that I didn’t keep?
- Do you feel that I respect you? Do you respect me?
- Is there something you’d enjoy doing with me?
- Is there a secret you are keeping from me for fear that I may love you less?
- What can I do to show you I want to be more like Jesus?
- Is there something I do that annoys or embarrasses you?
- How can I best express how much I love you & I’m honored to be your parent?