They say if you want to know the truth, ask your kids! They hold nothing back and certainly haven't learned the art of creating little white lies to protect anyone's feelings. When I became a mother, I can remember my mom taking me to lunch at Applebees for lunch one day. As we sat and ate our food, she blindsided me with a heavy question: "is there anything that I could've done to be a better mother to you?" I was puzzled. Like what difference does it make now? I'm out of the house. I have my own child to raise now, and furthermore, it's not like we can go back in the past and redo anything. Needless to say, I had TONS of things that I wanted to say. But did I say any of them? Nope? I wasn't prepared to engage in that conversation at the time. The same conversation later came up again at a much later date, and it wasn't as cool, calm, and collected as it should've could've been. (That's another story for another time.)
One thing that truly scares the life out of me is somehow creating troubled children. Why? Because broken and troubled boys grow to be broken and troubled men. And it’s a whole lot harder trying to “fix” them once they’re older. And I’m a good mom. You couldn’t tell me different. But I‘ve watched enough episodes of criminal minds to know that it literally only takes one bad moment to birth a serial killer because ten years ago you screamed at him for putting Cheerios in his ice cream. Okay, that’s pretty severe, but you get the point.
Levi is still young. Like literally. He hasn't even been on this earth for two years yet. And even though Ja'ron is only six, I am amazed by what he’s already figured out. He still doesn't really know what he wants yet, but then again, what six year old does? But, that doesn't mean that I should count him out entirely. He has his likes and dislikes. He has his own personality. And even at six, he has his own perspective of the things that are going on around him. Quentin is much older. As he prepares to enter his preteen days (lawd help me), I want to make sure that to him, things are going smoothly between he and I. Of course we'll have our good days and bad days, but that just comes with the territory of building and understanding the constant tango of the parent/child relationship. Because as my mom used to always say, "I'm your mother, not one of your little friends!" But one thing that I've learned myself, is that the issues of your childhood, if not resolved, trickle into your days of adult life. And even now, I'm still dealing with some unresolved things.
So how do you get into your child's head? How do you get the feel for what they're thinking? How do you continue to understand them? You talk to them! And no, I'm not suggesting that you pull up a chair and have a full blown red table talk conversation with this list of questions and your notepad and pencil, but I am suggesting that you be intentional with the conversation. And by intentional, I mean prepared and purposeful. Prepared in the way that you need to be prepared for whatever it is that you may hear. Accept it without judgement or becoming defensive. And purposeful by way that the purpose is not to correct or deflect, but to understand. You can understand a lot about yourself from your kids, because you'd be surprised by what they can pick up. Imagine that. I've asked Quentin most of these questions. And from some his answers, I found out two things: there is definitely room for me to grow in the way that I speak to him (how I thought my messages were coming across, is not how they were being received), and that he still worships the ground I walk on. (Insert Tiger Woods fist pump) Yes!
Bit in all honesty, give it a try. Their answers may surprise you.
1. When do we have the most fun together?
2. What's important to me?
4. What do I say a lot?
5. What are 2 things that I do that you don't like?
6. What are 2 things that I say that you don't like?
7. Have I ever embarrassed you?
8. Do I spend enough time with you?
9. What do I like to do in my free time?
10. How can you tell when I am upset?
11. How can you tell when I am happy?
12. Have I ever scared you?
13. What is something that I am not good at?
14. What is something that I'm great at?
15. What do you admire most about me?
16. In what ways do you think you and I are the same?
17. In what ways do you think you and I are different?
18. How much do I trust you?
19. What is something you wished I understood more about you?
20. Do you think I'm proud of you?
21. When do you feel the most loved?
22. Have I ever made you feel unloved?
23. Are you proud of me? Why?
24. What things have I taught you do you think will be the most helpful when you become an adult?
25. Is there anything you've always wanted to ask/tell me but didn't? Do you want to now?
26. Do you think I'm successful? Why or why not?
27. What is the best gift you have ever been given?
28. What do you think the hardest part of being a mom is?
29. What is the hardest part about being a kid?
25. Is there anything that I can do to be a better mom to you?
After this activity, let me know in the comments if any of their answers surprised you. What was your biggest take away from this?
Sharing is caring! So share with a mommy friend today because we are all in this together.