It is the perennial frustration of every parent: queries about what your child did at school are met with eye rolls and a perfunctory “Nothing.” As children grow older and stop worshiping their parents, maintaining your relationship can become a challenge. But relationships cut both ways. If you can’t seem to connect with your child, don’t blame it all on him or her. Instead, consider whether you really want to connect. Can you listen to your child without judging him or her? Are you willing to accept criticism?
If you’re ready to reconnect, try asking these 20 questions. Just be prepared to respond with love and warmth even if you don’t like the answer. Communication means opening yourself up to vulnerability. Once your child sees that you’re willing to do that, and that you’re willing to listen, the floodgates may soon open even further.
- What’s the thing you like the most about our family? The least?
- What is most important for fitting in at your school?
- If you could change one thing about the way I parent you, what would it be?
- Do you ever feel like I am unfair to you?
- If you could be doing anything in the world right now, what would it be?
- What do you think the most important traits are in a friend? What traits make someone unworthy of friendship?
- Who is the meanest kid at your school? The nicest?
- Have you ever changed your mind about a person after getting to know them?
- What values do you think we share? Do you think there are areas where we disagree?
- What’s something I think about you that is no longer true?
- What don’t you understand about me or your other parent?
- If you could help me understand one thing about who you are, what would it be, and why?
- Have you ever been afraid to tell me something? What was it, and why?
- Do you ever feel like I expect you to behave in certain ways to earn my love?
- What things about our childhoods are similar? Which are different?
- Do you think being a kid today is harder or easier than it was 20, 40, and 60 years ago?
- If you could ask me anything and get an honest answer, what would it be?
- Do you want to have kids of your own? What will you do differently from me, and what will you do the same?
- What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?
- What do you think of religion and spirituality? Have your beliefs changed over the years?
Remember, kids may be reticent to talk at first, especially if you have a conflicted relationship. But with enough dedication and a willingness to truly listen, you may soon find yourselves engaged in deep, meaningful, and incredibly satisfying discussions.