The Parent Trap

Author: Heather StClair  • 

Parenting is hard. In fact, sometimes you question if you’re doing it right at all. Couple that with the fact that it may be exponentially more difficult than it was even just 10 years ago, and ascending the mountain of parental success can look downright insurmountable.

In the name of partnership, and in conjunction with the philosophy of adaptive expertise, we must think differently about how we parent and how we avoid the ruts of either the routine, or what our parents did.

You know the drill. It’s 3:30 and your child enters the car. Or, it’s 6:00 and you walk in to your house from the workday.

“So, how was your day?” you ask because, well, it’s what you’ve always done. And, even though it’s likely to come from a place of care and interest, you’ve missed a great opportunity. You’ve missed a chance to make your child better. Yes… better!

If exercise is better for the body, then deeper, connected thinking is exercise for the brain. And this is neither complex nor time consuming. Isn’t that the best kind of exercise? Instead, it’s a set of simple questions that, frankly, will elicit way more than the routine response back of “fine,” “bad,” or the always meaningful, “enh.”

Instead, try one of these (I really like #8). While there is some overlap, here are two other links to great questions to really get at what you are trying to find out.

You’ll notice that nowhere is there a leading question like, “Was Billy mean to you again today?” or “Was Mr. Smith a disaster teaching you math again today?”

No matter their age, all of our children deserve to be met with smiles, love, and thoughtful questions, rather than leading ones or ones that don’t promote the kind of relationships we want in our school.

These set of questions are easy to ask… they’re like doing 100 quick pushups for the brain: powerful, meaningful, and illustrative. If you exhaust the list, or want a different way of playing the game, buy a beach ball and write these questions on it with sharpie, numbering each one. Then, if you have a moment before, during, or after dinner, toss the ball to your child/children and call out a number. When they catch the ball, they read the question aloud and respond. But don’t think that you won’t be getting that ball back at you to play as well.

And, if you get the question, “Tell me something you learned today” from your child… you can tell them that you learned how to ask better questions to people about whom you care most deeply.

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