Questions are a simple and powerful tool. Asked well, questions can open hearts -did you know Jesus asked over 300 questions?.
Consider the question, “What happened?” The lilt of voice, the facial expression, the tone and even the sincerity of the question can either open or close the one you’re asking. Just because there is a question mark following a sentence doesn’t mean it is a good question, does it? There is an art to asking good questions!
There are a number of things to keep in mind when asking our kids questions. Here are a few to consider, in the form of — yep — questions!
Becky and her two daughters, six-year-old Brianna and four-year-old Maisie, were at a playdate. The girls were downstairs with an older girl who was bit of a mischievous spitfire. Maisie came up and Becky noticed immediately that her hair had been cut.
Q: How should we respond to our children (middle school, high school and college) who insist there is no God?
My first impulse in responding to people who “insist there is no God” is to show them how wrong they are to hold that belief. I mean, look around, right? It takes a lot of faith to believe everything came from nothing. But “people” denying God’s existence is much different than MY KIDS denying that God exists and turning from their (our) faith. That creates sleepless nights, desperate pleas and crying out to God. It also tends to lead parents into anxious lobbying for their point of view when in fact, there is probably very little new that parents can say.
Aside from the conventional wisdom about this (which we fully embrace) to pray, to speak truth, and to love them, here are some less common ideas that have been shown to have powerful influence with children over time.
Julia was fed up. Her kids fought daily about their responsibilities, and Julia was at the end of her patience. Daily power struggles were beginning to define their relationships as the kids grew more discouraged and Julia more determined to stop the “misbehavior.” So Julia came to us for help.
As we sat and talked, it was clear from Julia’s description of her children’s behavior that there was more going on than mere misbehavior. We discussed how kids’ “misbehavior” is often just the tip of the iceberg of hunger, discouragement, anxiety, or tiredness. Julia went away from her session with a resolve to better understand both her challenging son Josh and her daughter Ashley, and help them better understand themselves. She wrote this report in preparation for our next session:
When we get into those familiar power-struggle patterns with our kids, it can seem like every mess, every chore, every bedtime is a battleground. And we can feel like oft-ignored commanders — trying in vain to “remind” our children back to the straight-and-narrow.
But these transitions and tasks don’t have to be battlefields.
Instead, turn your conflict into collaboration with one simple but powerful tool: questions.
Laura was stuck. Though she was passionate about bringing her boys up “in the training and instruction of the Lord,” she could tell that her oldest son Connor, at only 4, was already getting “exasperated” by her reminders: “God wants us to…” …be kind, share, be respectful, be responsible, and on and on.
At best he just tolerated dinner time prayer, and other times even seemed to enjoy interrupting it loudly. She was rightfully concerned about his growing lack of interest in her “spiritual guidance,” but didn’t know what to do. For Connor, God was becoming the Great Disapprover of all things childish and misguided.
“Knock it off! Stop it! Get over here, NOW!” These are familiar phrases for most parents. When kids act up we get frustrated. We get demanding and even disrespectful. Kids may comply with our demands in the short run but over the long run they learn from our example to be frustrated, demanding, and disrespectful when they’re not getting their way.
Dustin was becoming this kind of parent. He saw where it was leading and knew he wanted to walk a different road. He looked at numerous resources and when he discovered Connected Families he knew he had found what he was looking for. For the past 14 months he has immersed himself in Connected Families resources and support. Where once his primary goal was quick fixes and parental control, his primary goal is now to come alongside his kids as a model of God’s grace and guidance. It’s been hard work and it’s far from finished. But this recent report from Dustin shows the results:
If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
Sometimes teaching kids to share may feel like pulling teeth. We humans are naturally selfish, and often young children express this selfishness most vocally with impressive bouts of whining. “But I don’t WANT to share!”
Last week we wrote about what to do when we blow it. We suggested that overcoming parenting mistakes isn’t so much about not making them (which is good because we made TONS of them), but about being intentional to develop three specific things that will help you recover when you inevitably do blow it:
Skills for reconciling well when you’ve blown it.
Humility for admitting when you don’t live up to your vision.
A vision that can sustain your family through tough times.
These components are like the legs on a three-legged stool. Without all three in place the stool just doesn’t stand up. Over the next few weeks we’re going to share a few practical things parents can do to strengthen each leg. We’ll start with Skills. The following four skills have helped many a parent grow well, in spite of all their mistakes.