Have you ever found yourself on the frustrating end of a conversation that went something like this?
“How was school today?”
“Did you do anything fun today?”
“Do you have homework to do?”
“Can you answer a single question with more than a one-word answer?”
If you have children, particularly boys, and especially pre-adolescents or teens, and if you’ve ever tried to talk to them, you may have experienced something like this. For us dads, we can easily feel frustrated or discouraged and stop trying—probably the worst thing we can choose—but without a better plan, an easy opt-out. Great questions to ask your kids just takes a little bit of prep.
I have found that when I approach what I hope will be a conversation with one of my three teenage sons, it’s best if I’m prepared with questions that won’t easily elicit a one-word answer. Most of the questions I’ve learned to ask simply cannot be answered by “fine,” “yes,” or “no.”
When I’m able to engage one of my kids with questions like the ones I offer below, I discover, to my great delight, they actually do have brains that work, and they have far more to say than I might have otherwise surmised—and missed! Pick a good time when your kids are able (and hopefully willing) to give you some of their attention, such as driving in the car, at dinner, or maybe at bedtime, and come loaded with the ammunition below.
- What has been your favorite book? Movie? Why?
- What’s your most prized possession? Why that?
- What’s one of your big dreams? Tell me more about that.
- What is your favorite meal? Restaurant?
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? And why?
- If a fire started in our house, what three things would you take out?
- Who are your top three heroes? What do you admire most about each?
- When did you have the most fun?
- If you had $100 to spend, what would you buy?
- What would you do if you won $1 million?
Some deeper questions that will help you get to know your child better, what your child is really thinking, who he/she is down deeper:
- What makes you really angry?
- What embarrasses you? What is most embarrassing to you about that?
- When did you cry the hardest?
- If you could do three things to change the world, what would they be?
- What are five things you are really thankful for?
- What is your greatest fear?
- What causes you the most stress?
- Who is your closest friend? Why?
- What three things bug you most about your friends?
- What brings you the greatest joy?
- What was your greatest achievement this last year?
- What was your greatest disappointment this last year?
Helpful, but perhaps risky questions to help you be a better parent:
- What do you like to do best with me?
- What do Mom and Dad do that hold you back?
- What do we do that bugs you the most?
- What do you like most about the way Mom is raising you?
- What do you like most about the way Dad is raising you?
- If you could change three things about the way Mom and Dad parent you, what would they be? And why?
- What do you want most from me?
With great questions to ask your kids such as these, you will definitely be more successful engaging your kids, getting to know them better, and enjoying them more. Try it. You’ll like it.
Great Dads Shape Great Kids.
Be a Great Dad Today.
Post by Keith Zafren, founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had.
Men who want to be great dads love the stories Keith Zafren tells, the practical skills he teaches, and the personal coaching he offers. Keith has spent seventeen years learning firsthand how to raise three great teenagers and stay close to them, no matter what. He coaches busy dads not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made, but instead, to create fantastic relationships with their kids.
Keith adapted and revised these questions from Robert D. Hamrin, Great Dads: Building Loving Lasting Relationships with Your Kids. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Cook Communications Ministries, 2002 and Ken Canfield, The Heart of a Father: How You Can Become a Dad of Destiny. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1996, 2006.
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Hope you enjoyed this blog, Great Questions to Ask Your Kids by guest blogger, Keith Zafren.