Conversational parenting is both spontaneous and purposeful. Life and connection do happen in the margins of life, where little planning occurs, but being purposeful also helps communication immensely. Consider these two scenarios:
Scenario one: Mom picks her son up from school. She's distracted, thinking more about what she's making for dinner than how her son experienced school.
Son: "Hi, Mom."
Mom: "Hi. How was school?"
Scenario two: Mom prays for son while he's at school because she remembers he's had a difficult test. On the way to pick him up, she thinks of good questions to draw him out.
Son: "Hi, Mom."
Mom: "Well, hello there. Should I give you a high-five, or do we need to drown your sorrows in ice cream?"
Son: "What do you mean?"
Mom: "Your test. How did you do?"
Son: "I'm not sure."
Mom: "How did you feel you did?"
Son: "Okay, I guess."
Mom: "Were you worried?"
Son: "No, I felt pretty good about it."
Mom: "I'm proud of you for studying so hard."
Son: "Thanks, Mom."
In the second interchange, the mom is able to know more about the son's day because she was purposeful in approaching him.
The word purposeful has many synonyms: resolved, determined, deliberate, intentional, committed, decided, resolute, fixed, persistent, tenacious. Antonyms include unintentional and purposeless. Look back over the ten synonyms and ask yourself the following questions.
- Resolved. How have I resolved to connect with my children this year? Have I changed the way I approach my children since last year? Why or why not?
- Determined. How have I been determined to really know my children's hearts in the last two weeks?
- Deliberate. What deliberate steps have I taken to reveal my heart to my children?
- Intentional. How have I been intentional with each of my children? How have I tailored my words to each child this week?
- Committed. Have I committed myself to knowing my children? How?
- Decided. What have I decided about each child that prevents me from connecting with him or her? What barriers have I erected? What obstacles have my children put between us?
- Resolute. How have I resolved this year to pursue the soul of each child? What prevents me from doing that?
- Fixed. Have I become so busy that I have not fixed my schedule to meet the needs of my children? Am I interruptible? Is my schedule too fixed? Do I fully fix my attention on my children when they are in the room?
- Persistent. When my children don't engage with me, am I persistent? Do I relate more to the woman or the judge in this story:
In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, "Give me legal protection from my opponent." For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, "Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out" (Luke 18:2-5 NASB).
This is an amazing parable for parents. May we be persistent, pestering our children with our knocking at the door of their hearts. But so often we are like the reluctant judge, bothered by the interruptions of our children.
- Tenacious. Are you a tenacious receiver and sender in the communication game? If a child blows you off, do you gather yourself and try again? How easily do you quit?
Purposeful communication happens when we dare to be tenacious parents who passionately pursue the soul of each child. The old adage applies to our communication with our children: They won't care how much we know until they know how much we care. Within the context of a loving, safe home where parents pursue their children in a variety of ways, communication flourishes.