HELPFUL TIPS TO INSPIRE CONVERSATION
We thought you might appreciate some helpful tips on using the site. Likewise, feel free to share with us your own tips after using the site. The helpful suggestions below are in no particular order of importance, so please do read them all.
Set Aside Time for discussions as often as you can, ideally more than once per week.
Plan Adequate Time for discussions. If you set aside too little time, it will limit the outcome these discussion can have.
Avoid Interruptions. Turn off smart phones and other pesky distractions. These discussions will have much more impact if both parents and children are focusing on each other. Even a brief call or text can easily disrupt the flow of conversation and bonding.
Put out Food or Healthy Snacks. Teens relax more with food. One of the most ideal times to have a discussion is over a family meal.
Change the Scenery. Create a different ambiance… go out for pizza or to a café or outdoors in a park. This does wonders to move everyone’s mind away from the distractions of things to do at home and puts everyone in a better and more receptive frame of mind.
Everyone Gets to Joins In. Let all ages participate. We have a large family and all of our kids (except the baby) participate. Even the youngest have something to add and often the discussion takes twists and turns in unanticipated, but wonderful directions, based on the comments made by the youngest children.
DON’T stick to the script. There is no script. These blogs are to SPARK conversation so use them to initiate discussion. Don’t feel you need to follow a particular order. Let it flow. Let the kids direct the conversation.
Be a Moderator, NOT a Lecturer. Your goal in these discussions is: 1) to impart wisdom and values that you wish to transmit, and 2) to learn more about your children and the way they think. The best way to do that is to let them speak. Gently let them know your view on the topic, but you want the kids to do a lot of the talking. Let them share their thoughts on any related or even unrelated topics that the conversation turns to. Try to avoid feeling lectured to! A delicate balance and not necessarily easy to do! But with practice, it will work for your family.
Keep a Gentle Hand on the conversation. If your child is espousing a harmful view, you may need to take more control of the situation. If your child is missing the lesson you are trying to impart, you may need to step in a bit more. Be careful, if you press too much it may backfire.
Be Aware of the Dynamics. Some discussions will be amazing and you will be so impressed with your children. Others may fall flat. Each attempt at discussion, on any given day and with each child is different. Even the same child may not be consistent. Some in the group may lift the conversation while others may drag it down. Kids can be tired; have had a bad day or simply not be in the mood. Don’t feel like you must complete the conversation if it is not going well. If the topic is “wrong,” switch topics. If a child does not have the right attitude then end it. If some of the children enjoy the topic and others don’t, consider excusing the child who may be dragging down the conversation. Best to avoid this; we prefer to have all our children benefit from the topic discussed. However, each family, child and day is different. Choose what works best for your family at that particular time.
Age Related. By all means separate the age groups of your children if discussions will work better.
Questions to Get You Started. At the suggestion of a friend, we added questions to consider at the end of many of the blog posts. Use these or ask general, open-ended questions after reading the blog such as, “what do you think about this blog,” or “what do you think about what the boy did in this situation.” Most of our kids thought our conversations flowed more smoothly and naturally without the questions at the end. One of our daughters thought the questions helped frame the discussion. In some cases, our discussions go too long without the questions, and the questions would have been overdoing it. So feel free to use or not use the questions, depending on your family dynamics. For now, we think our family has voted to read the blogs and discuss them without the questions. We will keep you posted….
There Are No Rules…Well Except For These Three.
(1) Keep Trying.
(2) Keep Reinventing Yourself to keep things interesting and to make it work. A single subject can provide a host of topics. For example, Hurricane Sandy provokes discussions ranging from compassion and hospitality shown by those willing to help other, to fears about storms, to trying our best to keep our chins up, to an opportunity for family togetherness and strengthening our ability to withstand inconvenience, stress and discomfort and to environmental concerns. Be creative with a topic and your discussions.
(3)Many of the articles posted on this website revolve around ethical and/or moral dilemmas. We often write about scenarios that make you, the reader, think about how you would act in a given circumstance. We at Inspire Conversation understand and appreciate that every reader has his or her own way of thinking. We appreciate debates and arguments among our readers- as long as they are both respectful and constructive.
In the book Friend & Foe by Columbia professor Adam Galinsky and Wharton professor Maurice Schweitzer, the authors claim that, “by understanding that we are simultaneously friends and foes, we not only gain a deeper insight into human nature but also gain insight into how to be more successful in our relationship…” So, when you are debating with your family and friends, remember to respect one another and work in harmony to get your point across and hear out the opposing side’s argument.
(4) Keep Reminding Yourself that it likely will not be easy and return to rules (1) and (2)!!
We hope this site helps you, and brings you closer to what we are sure are your most treasured possessions- your children. Please use this site to help you shape and mold your children, to help you get closer to them, to teach them, and especially to learn from them. Our children have so much to offer to us and to others.
We look forward to hearing your comments, suggestions and thoughts.
All the best,
Jason and Naomi