Make Time for Mind-Wandering Time

I write this during the worldwide timeout for COVID19. When school closed, entertainment shut down, church shut down, Netflix subscriptions quadrupled, and we became stuck in our homes together.

Suddenly we did have time for mind-wandering time. Because there is only so much Netflix one can watch. And only so many family game nights together.

Early on I made this meme up for the parents at my church.

But I write this for this time after the worldwide timeout. Because this mind-wandering time is a gift we can give our teens.

This research is from an article who’s title captured my attention:  “How COVID19 is Changing Families.”

Today, many adolescents lack critical thinking skills that previous generations had. The pace of society, social media, instant gratification—nobody takes time to pause and reflect. Is that affecting their ability to figure out their purpose?

I think so. You need to take time to be reflective, and I don’t think kids do much of that these days. When we interview kids about finding purpose, they’re always like, “Wow, nobody has asked me these questions before. I’ve never thought about this before.” As parents, we tend to ask, “Did you study for Friday’s physics test” or “Are you going to play a sport this season?” We only focus on the short term.

We rarely ask, “What do you really want out of your life?” We don’t typically have these conversations with our kids. Yet the reality is kids want to think about these things. They say, “This is the stuff I want to think about and talk about, but nobody asks me about it.”

That’s a little bit indicting for us parents, isn’t it?

Yes. We need to be asking these questions, to allow our kids room to let their minds wander. In neuroscience, they call it the “default mode.” New research indicates that “mind-wandering time” is very important. We don’t have any of that built into our educational system. And when our kids get home from school, they’re so scheduled that they don’t have time to mind-wander. That time is critical to purpose development. Source.

Finding purpose is a part of adolescent development. Finding purpose is part of a growing faith, which I hope is happening in your teen’s life. Faith becomes even more real when one’s personal purpose is attached to it.

Without overscheduling your teen’s mind-wandering time, here are some intentional questions you can ask your teen to inspire his/her mind to wander.

  • Has there been any books that you’ve read lately that have inspired you? Why were you inspired?
  • What is a quote that has inspired you lately? Why are you drawn to that quote?
  • What have you done lately that you feel has changed your world?
  • Where do you see unfairness happening?
  • Where do you see change happening in the world?
  • What makes our family amazing?
  • What do you want to be famous for? Do you want to be known or famous?
  • Have you passed up on any chances that you now regret? What was it? Why do you regret it?
  • What did you learn from the last time you failed at something?
  • What’s the best thing about being you at this moment?
  • What actions are you taking now to make the world a better place in the future?
  • How do you feel when someone pushes you to do your best?
  • What does it take to be a leader? Do you think you are a leader? Who do you think is a good leader?
  • Do you want to be popular? Or influential?

Sometimes the best mind wandering time for your teen will happen during the “boring” church you are a part of. Keep consistently being a part of your “boring” church because this is a gift.

Your teen’s God-given purpose is not in your control. You have been given this beautiful opportunity to steward a soul that God has created with a purpose.

“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.”

Rabindranath Tagore

Amen to that. You have been given this bundle of hope for the world.

There are moments for you to pray for your teen. There are moments for you to have conversations with your teen. There are moments for you to lead your teen (whether they want to be led or not). And there are moments you let your teen’s mind wander and watch…and of course continue to pray. You cannot pray enough.

Your teen is amazing, right?

What will your teen discover about his/her purpose when that mind is allowed to wander? There are inspiring stories in the making here.

(Photo credit:  by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash)