We all want to be great parents that are involved in our children’s lives. However, once they start to school that becomes harder in so many ways. We are no longer present for a large portion of our child’s day and have to ask them to share about their experiences. Unfortunately, when they are young, they are only concerned with when can they go play or what’s for snack. Then, the older they get the less they want to share about their daily routine. So, we get the iconic answer to “what did you do today?”…..”nothing”. Of course, we all know that answer leaves out quite a bit of the details of our child’s day. We also know that, in general, our kids aren’t really trying to hide anything from us they just don’t want to waste their time talking about events that have already occurred.
So, what can we do to improve this situation? First and foremost, we must make time to talk with our kids on a daily basis. I have found that just in general conversation, I can make more connections with my teenage son than I ever get from the “what did you do today?” question. We also need to stay up to date on what is happening at our kids’ schools. Most elementary school will send home newsletters, homework folders or other communication forums. Middle and high schools will generally have some sort of webpage with information about current class or school events. Many of these school websites will also have teacher webpages with information about their specific class. All of these can be starting points for conversation with your child. You will already have a handle on what they are doing in school and can start the conversation more specifically like “How are you enjoying learning about recycling?”.
I know we all wish we could just attach a bullet camera to our child’s head and monitor them where ever they go. But remember, as much as we feel the need to support and protect our children, part of being a parent is learning when to give them some freedom and let them grow! Just keep those lines of communication open and don’t get frustrated by the “nothings and I don’t knows”.