Last month my husband and I were listening to a book by John Maxwell, Good Leaders ask Great Questions, as we rode along the straight, flat roads south in Patagonia. While the scenery replayed wide open spaces and big skies, Maxwell told us about the questions he always asked his children after a family outing.
Usually after we had a family outing our goal at home was to get the kids cleaned up, fed and in bed and then we could clean up the stuff we’d taken along before we collapsed into bed. I wish however we’d known these two questions, which I will tell you in a minute. But first I want to talk about why Maxwell asked these questions, the same reason you should be asking your children questions that start conversations, whether the conversations be silly or sublime.
- To get to know your children — As parents we should be students of our children. We need to be aware of their interests, their thoughts, their interests, their fears, their talents, their friends, their beliefs, and their doubts. We need to guide them to the truth, to knowing right from wrong (as opposed to knowing savvy from stupid), to be discerning, and to be responsible members of society. But we can’t do this without knowing them intimately to be able to point them in the right direction. Knowing our children isn’t an exercise to satisfy our curiosity, but means to helping us be the parents God wants us to be.
- To help our children — Therapists spend far more time listening than giving advice because when people talk through a situation they understand it better. Whether they need to find a solution to a problem or work through what they have seen and heard to make sense of it, talking to someone helps. The same goes for our children—telling a listening parent helps them grasp meanings, ideas, and lessons. It also gives our children a sense of worth, because they feel valued by your time actively listening. Another bonus is that we are modeling good conversations skills: asking questions and listening.
So what are John Maxwell’s questions? They are two very simple ones:
- What did you love?
- What did you learn?
They are so simple, I wonder why I didn’t think of them.
Here is my challenge to you: whether you had an “outing” with your kids or not, ask them these two questions at the dinner table tonight. You can modify them a bit—What did you love about today? What did you learn today? Then I’d love it if you would come back to this post or my blog facebook page and tell me—
—What did you love about that conversation?
—What did you learn from that conversation?
* * * * *
To never miss an Around the Table blog post, simply sign up in the space near the top right side of the blog, below the picture of the book:
Each week you will receive one email that looks like this:
It's as easy as that. No searching for the blog, waiting for your browser, or missing a post. Sign up today!
* * * * *