We’ve got to have conversations that matter with our kids, friends, family and strangers.
We were not built for small talk, nor should we accept superficial answers when we ask someone:
“How are you today”
What are Conversations That Matter
As parents, friends and just humans… we all need to be there for one another.
Conversations that matter are ones that are more meaningful and go beyond the small talk.
They dig deep and each party involved in the conversation should not accept mediocrity in a response.
It’s sad, but suicide is now the second leading cause of death among our young and according to the World Happiness Report mental health issues among our youth has increased substantially over the last several years.
And when a tragedy like this happens it’s so important we check in more with our kids, but if we haven’t been doing this on a regular basis, having those conversations that matter become harder.
Furthermore, we can’t say “you’ll get over it” as David Hogg shared in this Tweet:
Stop saying “you’ll get over it.”
You don’t get over something that never should have happened because those that die from gun violence are stolen from us not naturally lost.
Trauma and loss don’t just go away, you have to learn to live with it through getting support.
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 24, 2019
Many in our media are sharing the Columbia protocol as a way to check-in with our youth or those we’re concerned about. They suggest asking the following questions:
- Have you wished you could go to sleep and not wake up?
- Have you thought about hurting yourself?
- Have you thought about how you might accomplish this?
Yes, these are powerful questions, but unfortunately most kids (or even adults) won’t answer these honestly. That’s why we need to have consistent conversations that matter around all topics daily and even open up as parents to our kids about our own ups and downs.
The more frequently you talk about everything, especially with our youth, the more likely they will be to open up about how they feel personally.
How To Have Conversations That Matter
In the audio clip above, you’ll hear Intentional Teen founder Christina Ellis recommend the High/Low question. The idea is to go around the table and have everyone give the high or low point of their days (yes, that means you too, Mom and Dad).
Initially your children may just respond with one or two word answers, but when you dig deeper into the “why,” you can actually get them to open up about other things going on in their lives.
For example: “The worst part of your day was Math? Why was that? Is there something you’re struggling with in math? Is there some reason you hate that class?”
You may also want to try this away from the dinner table, when you’re one-on-one with your child. (A lot of kids may not want to open up and be completely transparent in front of the entire family around the dinner table.) On the way to school or even in the evening, before bed, are great opportunities for one-on-one time.
I also suggest downloading our free list, 31 Questions that You’ll Love Asking Your Kids.
These are fun, thought-provoking questions that may not seem significant on the surface… but once you get your child to open up and start engaging in meaningful conversation with you, you’ll be amazed at what they reveal.
That’s what one excited dad discovered:
Conclusion: Having Meaningful Conversations that Matter
As you already know, Mom and Dad, as kids enter adolescence (and oftentimes even younger), they become less forthcoming about what’s going on in their heads.
And let’s be real, asking them direct questions like the Columbia Protocol suggest are probably not going to get you completely honest responses.
The best thing we can do is use fun, thought-provoking questions to get our kids to open up and have meaningful conversations with us. This will make them far more likely to come to you when something is bothering them and, quite honestly, you’ll be far more likely to notice the change in their state of mind, even if they don’t.
Do you have a standard question you ask around the Dinner Table, Mom and Dad?
We would love to put your responses on a deck of conversation cards.
Leave us a comment below with your favorite go-to questions or jump on in our Parent Only Facebook Group and share your thoughts!