Years ago when my son was still crawling around in his diaper, I learned a valuable lesson that I have heeded to this day…listen to your older kids when and where they want to talk. My family was visiting friends in their home and we’d all just sat down to play a card game; however, the wife was nowhere to be seen. We waited for quite a long time before she finally made her way back to the table.
She explained that she had gone upstairs to say good night to her teenage daughter. Once there, she realized that her teenager was ready to do some talking, so she pulled up a pillow and gave her a listening ear. She explained that she had learned to listen to her kids when they were in the mood to talk regardless of what else she had on her plate. I have never forgotten her advice.
Our kids grow up so fast! In just one short week my son will no longer be a teenager. That baby boy in diapers will be a 20-year old man. Nothing thrills me more than to enjoy a relaxed conversation with my now-grown son. I love just listening to him talk about his dreams and simple things about his life. All of it is gold to me and I soak it in.
But these easy moments are rare gems. Thanks to my friend’s advice so many years ago, I try to prioritize my kids’ words above even pressing responsibilities. If they’ve got something to say, then I’ve always got time to listen…it’s as simple as that. I have learned I’ve got to listen when my older kid wants to talk.
Often teenagers get the wrap of being secretive and closed-mouthed when it comes to their parents. While this can be true for the typical day-in and day-out, I have found my kids are more than willing to open up about their lives when they are not distracted by a million things going on around them.
Over the years I have learned how to get more than yes and no from my kids. I have discovered that certain settings are more conducive to meaningful conversation than others. Here are the 3 best times for your grown kids to open up.
My husband and I have always prioritized dinner around the table. There is just something about sharing a meal that makes for better conversation. Because of this, we choose to keep the television off during meal time. It is typically at this time when we talk to our kids the most and we do a lot of laughing at dinner too.
If you need to have a serious conversation with your older child, then there is no better time than a longer car ride. The car provides a unique opportunity where you can talk without having to look at them square in the face. This is especially helpful if you need to discuss something they would find awkward to discuss face-to-face.
Confessions often come out at night. It seems like the conscience has a way of catching up to you when you are trying to fall asleep. I can’t count the times my kids have come in after they had already supposedly gone to sleep to confess something that was on their conscience or to tell me something they were particularly stressed about.
I recently had a friend tell me that she purposely forces herself to stay awake for her daughter to come home in the evenings even though her eyes beg to shut. Her daughter is always most talkative in the late evenings and making connections with her is more important than an extra hour of sleep. She said her other two kids had different times when they liked to talk, so she adjusted to make sure she had quality moments with each of them.
Above all else, I want my kids to know that they can count on me and that I’m available. As their mama, I want to be their safe place no matter how old they get, even if all I have to offer is a shoulder to cry on.