Recently, I had some downtime in my workday. So I walked by my son’s room to find him leaning on the steps of his bunk bed staring and doing nothing (I work from home and he is homeschooled). I walked in and rested next to his bean bag chair. He immediately came off the steps and sat next to me. I asked him, “What’s on your mind?” What followed was a deeper conversation than I anticipated. It started light with basic topics—his sister’s 16th birthday party, my brother and his family who had recently visited from out of state, and some of the superhero movies we had recently watched.
Then we found ourselves jumping to school concerns, to problems he and his siblings had been having. As we talked, I realized how important these one-on-one talks are. I need to be intentional in fostering deep conversations regularly. Now I have scheduled times for each child to have alone time with me. That’s one way of making these types of conversations happen. Here are 4 more ways to have deeper conversations with kids.
Get on their level.
Our 6-year-old is the youngest and shortest in the house. One time I got on my knees and walked around a little bit. It was a completely different perspective, and that is his view all the time. He looks up to everything, making it seem like everybody is looking down on him. So, I often squat or sit down when I speak to him. It enables me to get face-to-face, to look him in the eye, and gets me on his level. When I do this, he knows he has my attention and the conversations flow. Try getting on your kids’ level, physically, when talking to them.
Get comfortable in their space.
As I reflect on the conversation I mentioned in our son’s bedroom I’m realizing some of our best and deepest conversations happen there. When I sit or lay down in his room, It’s like I’m in his area, where he’s most comfortable, and he opens up. The same happens with our other two kids as well. They sleep, hang out, and just spend time in their rooms. They are very comfortable there and it’s private. They can just relax, open up, and be themselves.
We have talks at the kitchen table, but that’s not just their space. Deep conversations have happened there, but I think the deepest conversations we’ve had happened when I got comfortable in their own space. I believe the same will happen for you.
Never stop talking.
Small talk, deep conversations, talks about goals, about school, sports, whatever—never stop talking to them. Even when they aren’t as talkative, keep the lines of communication open. Have as much conversation with your kids as you possibly can. The higher the quantity of conversations you have will open the door for more quality conversations. When communication dies in any relationship, the relationship itself soon follows. Never stop talking to your kids.
Never stop listening.Your kids aren’t always looking for an answer, sometimes just an ear.
Make sure you are listening intently. I’m guilty of forming an opinion before my kids are done speaking or going into problem-solving mode when they just want to express themselves to me. Your kids aren’t always looking for an answer, sometimes just an ear. Listening to your kids will keep the door open to deeper conversations.
As dads, we want to have a meaningful influence on our kids. If we have a surface-level relationship built on surface-level conversations, then our influence will be limited. Practice what I’ve listed and you’ll be able to go deep with your kids.
Sound off: What is another way dads can initiate deeper conversations with their kids?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up one-on-one with your kid and ask, “What’s on your mind?”