On any given afternoon, you’ll hear me ask my kids, “how was your day?” and almost in unison, you’ll hear the “…fine” from across the room.
I keep telling myself that they are getting older and that those short responses are common, but the truth is that I’m not getting the answers I’m looking for. And well, maybe, just maybe, I’m not asking the type of questions that yield the kind of answers I seek. They are, after all, young kids, and they’ll always answer what’s easiest for them.
Of course, my four-year-old is always excited to answer that same question with long answers, one that begins to describe his adventures at pre-school, when another child said something mean, or even if he liked his mom-packed lunch that day.
I’m not sure where exactly the switch from long answers to short ones occur, but I want to make sure the communication channels are always open and that my kids know they can share what they are feeling with me.
It’s important to practice talking to our kids after school, around the dinner table, or even in the car, during the moments we have with them. I often talk to my kids in the car, in between activities, since that seems to be a great place for me to get their undivided attention.
I like to talk about the small things, the details of their life -from the activities at the home school center to the new kid they played with on the playground. This ongoing dialogue of the daily stuff is exactly the kind of practice rounds we need, as parents, to be able to talk about the “big stuff.”
This year, we have a teenager (another exchange student) in the house, and that means that her friends will be coming over to hang out and socialize. I want my house to be a place where my kids’ friends feel comfortable and safe, but I’m also aware that my younger ones will overhear conversations about things like alcohol.
While my kids are aware that alcohol consumption is common among adults -we live in New Orleans after all- they’ll hear stories that include High School aged kids, just a few years older than them, kids, that they consider peers.
Working with Responsiblity.org and their #TalkEarly program this year has brought to my attention the importance of talking to our kids, especially after school when we are overscheduled and often run on autopilot.
Whenever I talk to my kids, I try to share a story about my childhood that they relate to, no matter how difficult the conversation. I’ve had a few bad experiences in High School when it comes to alcohol, and this is one topic I’m passionate about discussing with my kids early.
While my daughter is the social butterfly and always wants to be “in-the-know”; she’s also really easy to read when she’s not having a good day from something she’s experienced or overheard. She’s a very analytical child, and will often keep the wheels turning in her mind about a subject unless I bring it up.
I’ve learned to ask her open-ended questions, the type that encourages conversation, instead of the those that yield yes or no answers. I also try to be a good listener, patient with her as she comes up with the answers and kind to her when I respond. Of course, each of our kids is different, and they require own their style of conversation.
Like everything else, there is an art to having a conversation, and I’m still learning how to do it better when I talk to my kids about life. Alcohol is an interesting topic and one that I hope to keep an ongoing conversation with my children as they grow.
What I love about working with Responsibility.org’s #TalkEarly program is that they have resources for parents with kids of all ages, from six through the college years. It’s a relief to me to know that there is a resource to turn to for challenging topics like this, especially around something so widely accepted and yet rarely discussed.
How do you talk to your kids about alcohol?
Disclosure: From time to time, I work with awesome companies that share my values and have important messages to share. Today’s post was brought to you by #TalkEarly campaign and Responsibility.org. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that encourage my creativity.