A few months ago, I was praying about wisdom to talk with my children better. I get distracted easily when my children want to talk, and I’ve been dissatisfied with a lack of opportunity to talk once the day gets rolling. As they have gotten older, I’ve discovered that they aren’t always comfortable having conversations in front of their siblings. When my children were young, conversations worked best with all of them all at once. Although we still have conversations at the table, and we still talk in the car, I wanted a time when they knew they could have undivided attention from mom. A lot of parents have a time like this at night before bed, but because my brain is mush by 8:00, I wanted to figure something out earlier.
After some thinking, I decided to start having a donut date for each child, once a week, before school. Mornings work best for me, and once a week is predictable but not oppressive for my schedule. I bring my calendar with me, we buy donuts, and then we sit down to talk. We’ve been doing this for several weeks. Each child has had two donut dates, and it’s been working great. I’m really thankful for God’s wisdom and provision for conversation.
- I show them my schedule, and explain any planned events or goals that I have in the next few weeks.
- I ask them if there are any meals they would like to put on the schedule.
- I’ve asked if there are any errands they want to run or places they’d like to go. (David wants more birding trips. Laurel wanted to plan shopping trips for Christmas presents. Bethel reminded me of some school supplies she wanted.)
- I’ve asked if they have any questions or things they wanted to talk about.
- I want them to look forward to these times, to be a profitable time. But I also want it to be a time where I can bring up spiritual discussions.
- I’ve asked them how I can pray for them. We’ve brainstormed ideas for solving some spiritual challenges. I’ve followed up on some ongoing issues.
- I’ve asked them what they’re reading in their Bibles, or if there are any verses that they’ve enjoyed. I’m guessing that as we do more donut dates, they will be more prepared for this question.
- I’ve asked if they have any Bible questions, or questions that they want to ask.
- I try to finish our conversation with light conversation about things they are looking forward to, or successes that they’ve experienced. We go home and I pray for them before we go into the house.
Looking back, some lessons I’ve been reminded of:
- Children’s needs for conversation change as they get older.
- Learning to talk with our children takes practice. We learn from our mistakes and successes.
- Different parent personalities find a variety of ways to minister to their children, who also have a variety of personalities and needs.
- Praying for ideas to teach our children spiritual things is good! God answers prayer!
- Even when God answers prayer for wisdom, we still need to act. It took me several weeks between thinking about a donut date, and actually taking a child out.
What are some questions you ask your children when you have some alone time?