My view of the world through words & photos
I once read that kids find that their parents get smarter as they (the kids) get older. Well, I’ve always thought my parents were really smart people; as I’ve become older (and a parent myself) I’ve come to realized that they aren’t just smart – they’re brilliant. And the best thing about them is that they probably don’t realize how brilliant they are.
Take my mom, for example. I recently realized that she had a wonderful formula for having amazing conversations. We would be talking in the car running errands or going to an event having general conversations, which slowly morphed into deeper conversations. Looking back, it seemed that the longer the drive and the later it was in the day (the darkness of night made the situation “safer”), the deeper the conversation became.
I remember as a teenager talking with her about relationships with boys and friends, my mixed-up feelings as I began to evolve from being a kid to becoming a young adult, and family history. I certainly didn’t think of our conversations in these terms at the time. I just knew that I was able to talk with my mom about so many things while most of my friends were complaining that they couldn’t talk with their folks.
I was sharing these thoughts with my friend Mary a couple weeks ago and she said, “My mom did the same thing only in the kitchen. We had great conversations when we were doing the dishes.” She then said she’s had her best conversations with her two boys as they were in the car going places.
Being side by side seems to be a key factor. In the case of the car conversations, we agreed that because the driver (typically the parent) had to stay physically focused on the road, it made discussing many topics easier. It wasn’t as difficult to open up if we didn’t have to look our mom in the eye, which runs contrary to most advice about how to speak with others. Then again, tweens and teens are not like “most people.”
As a parent of two teenagers, I realize what a gift my mom gave me. I know that I learned her life lessons through these experiences – quietly and subtly – and have been using them with my kids. I think one of the reasons it has been so successful is because it often happens naturally.
So rather than starting a conversation off with “We need to talk.” or “What do you think about (tough topic)?”, try taking a drive or doing the dishes or working on a project. While it might not work for everyone, the successful formula for a great conversation could be:
Close Proximity + Extended Time Together + Little Eye Contact = Stronger Conversations
(By the way, I’ll let you know about my brilliant dad next time.)