Dr. Rich Patterson

Questions Open Doors

By reading the posts, by now you realize how important it is to ask good questions of your kids.  Even though they act like they may not like it, deep down, they like that you’re interested in them.  It helps to confirm that their thinking, even with all their questions, is OK, is sound and solid.  This process helps affirm their self-esteem by encouraging them to feel free to say things that maybe aren’t quite complete yet, crazy or just outrageous.  If you’re around really great parents for any time at all, you quickly learn that they know about their kids, what they are involved with, what they’re facing and they ask insightful and probing questions.  This opens doors for these parents and yields opportunities for them to be involved, to help their kids as a team.

Ask yourself tough questions about your time growing up and be willing to share some of those experiences with your kids.  Then ask them a question like, “Have you faced anything like that?”  Help them to process similar situations, then spin those off into other more likely scenarios that they may face.  In my book, Making Sense of Life: A Guidebook for Teens and Parents I have written at the end of most chapters, Thoughts for Students, and a separate section, Thoughts for Parents.  These two sections are loaded with great questions which can be used by youth groups, school advisory classes, parenting groups and youth camp sessions.  One of those questions in Chapter 4 is, “How might your thinking be limiting your success in one or two of the assets you have identified?”  The opportunity to expand the discussion, make connections, to listen non-judgmentally, to really share are limitless.

If you simply use your title as parent, guardian, or relative to get your kids to open up to you, then you will never really make a connection to them.  They will always be wary, fearful and/or reluctant to let you into their world.  But if you develop genuine influence, really making valid connections with them, listening without interruption, then you will begin to build a solid foundation of teamwork with your child.  That is when you begin to develop some credibility with them and over time you will both rise to enjoy a very healthy and happy relationship.

Enjoy the process–it is all we really have.