Three practical ideas to actually have a conversation.
You want to know what happened in school today. You have so many questions. So many curiosities. But when you ask your teen, you get nothing. You literally hear the word “nothing.”
How about some better questions. Not the “mom/dad questions” that your beloved is expecting. Ask the interesting questions that require an interesting answer. We’ve created a list for you. This may lead you to think of some more to add to this good-sized list.
Of course, don’t ask all of these questions every day. You have enough here that you can ask one or two and have a good curious conversation. You have enough to have quite a rotation to keep this conversation going. Imagine this on-going conversation about what actually happens at school.
- What made you smile today?
- Did you see a teacher laugh today? Tell me the story of why he/she laughed.
- Did you see an act of kindness today?
- Did you see an act of unkindness today? How did you respond? How did it make you feel?
- Did anyone cry at school? How did it make you feel?
- Did you tell anyone “thank you?”
- What book did you read today in class? Do you think I should read it too?
- What was the most creative thing you did today?
- Did you learn anything amazing?
- Did you learn something you didn’t understand?
- Did you learn something that made you “bored out of your mind?”
- Did you feel prepared for your test/quiz today?
- Were you inspired by someone or something today?
- Did you have to make a brave decision today? The kind of decision that turns your gut wonky?
- Did something happen that made you feel more confident?
- Did someone brag about you today?
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow at school?
- How is this year so far different from last year?
- Are you finding yourself to be different this year from last year?
- What do you hope to accomplish before school is out for the year?
- Are you seeing any negative changes in one of your friends?
- Do you feel supported by your friends?
- Would you rather be influential or popular?
- When do you find yourself praying throughout the day?
- Was there a “Jesus moment” today?
Another idea is to simplify this and do the daily “highs and lows.” What this little talker is doing is letting your teen know that it is okay for a low to have happened. It is so okay that it actually happens every day in some form. Read more about this here. And you have learned something about his/her school day.
Here’s another one-time practice that will give you a ton of insight into the school situation. Ask your teen to diagram the lunchroom.
There is a famous scene from the movie Mean Girls where the new girl is told the layout of the school lunchroom. This is what you are replicating because it will give you a ton of information, just like it gave the new girl.
Give your teen a sheet of white paper. Ask your beloved to draw out the lunchroom layout. Your first bit of knowledge is finding out if they have round or rectangle tables.
Then ask to describe who sits where, which groupings of friends. You will find out the names for the groupings of friends these days. Stoners are so 1970s.
When the diagram is finished, ask the following questions:
- Where do you sit?
- Where does (the child your child was friends with in elementary school) sit? Think of as many of those former friends your child had.
- Who are the leaders of each group from the diagram?
- What makes those leaders?
- How does one move from one group to the next? Is that even possible?
- Is there a “uniform” to be a part of one group?
- Do the groups also have “dedicated” locations in other parts of the school?(If there is a caste system) how do the groups rank?
- Where do you fit in?
- Some schools have you sit by class or by grade. You will find that out also. But even on assigned tables, the cliques clump together.
You will learn a lot about school life through this little project. And your teen may appreciate the chance to “gossip” about life at school and impress you with his/her knowledge of what is truly going on.
Now what do you do with all this intel you have gathered? Maybe nothing. Maybe something. Definitely pray. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Breathe. Your beloved may not need you to rescue him/her. Your beloved may just need to be heard. Or given words of encouragement. Or hear “me, too” from you. Trust the Holy Spirit. God’s interest in your teen costs more than your love. Trust this Larger Story God.