We have all lain awake at night, wondering if and how we could be better parents.
You want to bring the best out of your children, and you also want your kids to be open and honest with you.
Most importantly, you want your family to be happy. As you undoubtedly know, child-rearing is not easy.
Somewhere along the way, your children have become anti-social, belligerent, and hostile, and you feel like they are treating you as the enemy.
Communication is key to being a better parent, so here are seven questions you can ask your children whenever there are issues.
1. Do You Feel Like I Understand You?
A major complaint from teenagers about their parents is that they don’t understand them.
When children feel misunderstood, advice becomes meaningless and they are more likely to ignore it.
The desire to be understood is a basic human drive, so if your children complain that you don’t understand them, take that as an opportunity to find out more.
Sit down and listen to them. Teenagers will be more likely to open a dialogue if they feel they are communicating in a safe place without judgment.
2. Can I Help You with Anything?
Parents are often guilty of nagging, most likely because it’s what they experienced growing up.
However, teenagers will never respond well when they feel nagged and put upon.
If you notice that your children are going through a tough time, ask them what you can do to help.
If they answer “nothing,” accept it and give them some space. They may not be ready to talk about their issues or may want to try working through it on their own.
Teenagers respect an offer of help when it comes without judgement, even if they don’t say so.
3. What Are You Looking Forward to the Most?
This is an excellent question if you want to understand more about what motivates your children, or what they enjoy the most.
It could be a new TV show or an upcoming game that is about to launch. It would be best if you accepted their answer without judgment.
If there’s a new show on TV, don’t lecture them about how it might not be suitable viewing. Likewise, a lecture on game addiction when they talk about how excited they are for the new release will not go down well.
Share their enthusiasm without negativity, such as reminding them that exam week is just around the corner, and they will appreciate your interest.
4. How Can We Enjoy Some Time Together as a Family?
Teenagers often complain to their friends about how boring or lame their family has become or how their parents always resort to nagging them during so-called family time.
Is it any wonder teens will avoid family time like the plague?
Family life can be challenging, but it’s incredibly rewarding as well. When you know what your children find enjoyable, you can use that information for ideas on creating family get-togethers that are fun for everybody.
5. What are Your Biggest Obstacles?
Parents can obsess too much over academic performance and their children’s behavior, which causes them to overlook some of the issues their children may be facing.
Children will usually behave responsibly when they understand why it’s important to do so, but good behavior can also stem from knowing their parents understand them.
This question is an excellent strategy for parents to develop an understanding about their children’s more pressing issues.
6. Is There Anything You Dislike/Like About Being in This Family?
A major complaint from parents is that their kids are avoiding the family. They no longer communicate and immediately shut themselves in their room or would rather spend their time with friends.
Asking what they dislike/like most about family life should help get to the root of any issues. Getting them thinking about their answer may also highlight some family life benefits that they previously took for granted.
You will also discover where you can make improvements when they discuss the things they don’t like.
Only when you understand the issues can you begin to find ways to create a happier, more inclusive family life.
7. Tell Me How I can Be a Better Parent?
When you ask this question, be sure to emphasize that you want brutal honesty.
Having your children discuss your flaws with you can be challenging, but the insight you will gain into your parenting skills will be invaluable in finding the areas where you can improve.
All the above questions require you to listen without judgment, and above all, don’t take it personally. Parenting does not come with an instruction manual, but your kids’ regular and honest feedback can be the next best thing.