Guide to Family Conversations


Photo In the book Think Orange by Reggie Joiner, there's an incredible diagram describing how to maximize your opportunities during family times.  He describes the various times, communication methods, and the roles a parent plays during each of these times.  In Deuteronomy 6:7 it says, "Impress [these commands] on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."  But what exactly does this look like?

When you sit at home.

Meal time is an opportunity for formal discussion.  I can remember countless times growing up where dinner time led into our "family meeting" time.  While us kids dreaded the meeting, it was also a time for my dad to talk about values that he felt were important to us as a family and that needed to be addressed.  At meal times, parents have the opportunity to specifically act as a teacher, helping certain core values be established in their lives.

When you walk along the road.

You cannot be a family and not spend time in the car together.  Drive time is an opportunity for informal dialogue.  You might be in the car on the way to school, driving up north, or going to a soccer game.  Whatever it might be, the car is a perfect opportunity for parents to have conversations with their kids, not by pushing an idea they want to teach, but by allowing their kids to guide the conversation.  This is a great opportunity to play the role of a friend and helping your child interpret life along the way.

When you lie down.

One of my favorite times as a parent already is bed time.  Not only because it means I get peace and quiet, but I love the time singing and reading to my son as I lay him down for bed.  As your children grow, bed time is an opportunity for intimate conversations between you and them.  Reggie Joiner writes, "Too many parents miss the potential of this time because they have a habit of sending their kids to bed rather then taking them.  There is something about the private domain of a child's room that gives the parent a chance to have an intimate conversation and become the kind of counselor who listens to the heart of a child."

When you get up.

Morning time provides a fresh start to a new day.  If the previous day was an emotionally draining, get nothing accomplished kind of day, the morning means it's a new day and this one might be different.  Whether it is at breakfast with your kids or simply seeing them off before they hop on the bus, the morning is an opportunity for you to act as a coach and encourage them as they get ready to go about their day.  I still remember the days I would open up my lunch box to find a loving note from my mom encouraging me (I had to hide these once I hit middle school).  The morning is a great time to encourage your kids as they get ready for the day ahead.

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