When I was sixteen I quit talking to my parents. By that I mean I stopped communicating anything more than what was required for day-to-day living. I never shared my feelings, fears or hopes. They didn’t know who my school chums were or how I felt about girls. They probably didn’t even know that in my senior year of high school I never took a book home from school or seldom did homework.
It may sound like they were neglectful, but no, they did the best they knew how. They were good parents. And fortunately for all of us I was a pretty good kid and never got into more trouble than getting home past curfew on a few weekends.
Living incommunicado lasted until I was 19 and left home for the first time. I’m not sure why almost three years of non-communication happened, but I just didn’t feel comfortable sharing my feelings with mom and dad. Looking back I could have benefitted from their counsel and perspectives.
With that experience in mind, my wife and I decided that we needed to know what was going on in our children’s lives. We didn’t want their wellbeing and futures left to chance. Times were becoming more complicated. Challenges that we never knew were confronting them every day. There was trouble around every corner, or so it seemed. That’s when we made up our minds.
We decided to interview each of our children once a month. These interviews would usually occur on weekends, often on Sunday, when the kids were more relaxed.
During these interviews we quizzed our three sons and two daughters about everything: school, friends, relationships, perceived problems, hopes, fears, ambitions, spiritual growth and difficulties at home. I was amazed at how much they were willing to share. As a result, they seemed willing to come to us with anything and everything, usually at about 11:30 at night as we were falling asleep. We had a window seat in our bedroom and spent many late nights talking with them.
The interviews opened the lines of communication. We tried hard to listen first and offer counsel only when asked unless it was a matter that required our intervention. One of the keys to the success of our monthly interviews was starting young, usually when each child was six or seven years old. By the time they were teenagers it was standard operating procedure and they never protested.
The interviews worked. Our children opened up to us. We were able to help them through the tumultuous teenage years and into young adulthood.
Never has there been a more dangerous time for our children. Danger does indeed lurk around almost every corner. You can be there for your children. You can spare them many of the problems that confront today’s young people. Communication is the key. Try monthly interviews. They worked for us and they’ll work for you.
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