To say that I am a big talker would be a gross understatement. I talk. A lot. I process things verbally. A lot. So, it’s no wonder that the phrase, “let’s talk this through” comes out of my mouth with great regularity when talking with my girls. While it hasn’t always been that easy, I have learned a few tricks to keep the conversation flowing. Now that I have one teenager, and one pre-teen, I am so glad to have established a firm foundation of discussion. Here are some things I’ve learned.
1. Ask specific questions.
I haven’t always done this, but have learned to be really specific with the questions I ask my girls. Instead of, “how was your day?” I ask, “who did you sit with at lunch?” or, “what did you do in Language Arts today?” or “How are things going with you and “Sally so-and-so?”. This gives my girls some guidance as to where to start the conversation. Sometimes they are totally over wanting to divulge the details of the day, but usually, they are willing to spill the beans! Asking specific questions has made that a lot easier for them.
2. Dig deeper, to their underlying thoughts, beliefs and assumptions.
When my girls start talking about scenarios at school, I will often ask, “What were you thinking when that happened?” or “What do you think about that?”. This helps me to dig a little deeper into my girls thoughts and beliefs. When they are younger you spend a lot of time telling them what they should believe and how they should think. However, when they are out in the real world, God often uses life, school and friends to uncover what is really going on in those little minds and hearts. Digging beyond just the facts will give you some great insight into your girls core beliefs and values.
3. Learn when to let things go.
Ugggh……I am so horrible at this! I want to talk everything through, to the very last detail, until it is totally resolved. However, I have learned that sometimes I need to just leave things alone. Sometimes I need to let the girls resolve things in their own minds. Sometimes I have to not push for answers and wait until the girls are ready to talk. Like I said, I am not great at this, but it is something I am learning to practice as I am beginning to see the value in it.
4. Share honestly with your girls.
When my girls have questions, or are struggling with something, I try to be honest with them about my own questions and struggles. The truth is, there is a lot of me that is messed up and filled with doubt. The truth is, all of me is desperately in need of Jesus every day. I have made many mistakes in my life, and I hope that my girls will learn from those. So, I am pretty open with them about my past, my struggles and all of my areas of weakness. I obviously don’t share every detail of every part of my life with them, but I do my best to be real with them, and then remind them that I need Christ too!
5. Bring your game face to the party. Every. Time.
So, I have a terrible game face. Seriously. You can tell exactly what I am thinking by the look on my face. However, when talking to the girls, I have really had to work on this. Many times, during conversations I will be surprised, terrified or at a complete loss for what to say. I am alarmed because of what they are saying or asking and I am alarmed because I have no answers for them. Either way, I try to not react with my “crazy face” too often. I want my girls to know that they can bring ANYTHING to me. So, when they do, I can’t freak out or over react. I need to respond in way that puts them at ease. And that my friends, calls for a good game face. Even though I am DYING on the inside, I do my best to speak calmly, with my regular old conversation face on. This does take some practice, but once your girls learn that they really can come to you with everything, you will be so glad you worked on this!
Keeping the girl talk going is so necessary, at all stages of life. As my girls are forming their world views and beliefs, I want to know what is on their minds and in their hearts. I am not always great at taking things through with them. Sometimes I get wrapped up, overwhelmed or just plain old annoyed. But, I want to be an accessible mom that my girls can rely on. So, I will put forth the effort, pray for daily grace, and keep on talking!
How about you? How have you been able to keep your girls talking?