Have you ever wondered just how well you really know your son or daughter? When they walk out the front door, whom are they meeting? Where will they go? How will they spend their time?
As parents we get so wrapped up in our check-off lists that we may forget to stop and smell the roses, as the old adage goes, and start to lose sight of what is going on around us. Our cosmic calendars could use a tick off list for keeping track of our offspring and how they are progressing; self-discipline, values, interests, opinions, etc. Sometimes, as long as there are no apparent problems, parents assume all is well emotionally, socially and academically.
Parents can never know all about their children; their hopes, dreams and everything in between. Here is a short list of topics to explore with your children:
• How is their overall health?
• Do girls have their periods and are they regular?
• Are immunizations up-to-date?
• Do they have any concerns or questions about their bodies?
• Are they within a healthy weight range?
• How is their overall mental health?
• Which parts of their bodies are they most pleased or dissatisfied with?
• Who are their friends and where do they live?
• Are their friends close or only acquaintances?
• Who are the friend’s parents; what do they do and what are they like?
• How are the friends doing in school?
• Do their friends share similar likes or dislikes?
• Do they see themselves as popular or unpopular?
• What are the subjects they are learning in school?
• Who are their teachers and what they are like?
• Who are their favorite teachers?
• How are the current grades?
• Are they having any problems in school?
• Have they ever been bullied?
• Have they ‘picked on’ or bullied another?
• Do they get along with others in general?
• What would they like to become as an adult?
• Is there anything they would like to know more about that is not offered at school?
• Which sports do they enjoy?
• Which sports do they play?
• Which outdoor activities do they like?
• What indoor activities do they like?
• What activities would they like to try?
• Are they in any clubs?
• What are their favorite board and card games?
• Are there any new activities they would like to try?
• What genre reading materials do they enjoy?
• Who is their favorite author?
• What kinds of music do they like?
• What instruments do they enjoy?
• Do they have any hobbies?
• What TV show is their favorite?
• What are their five all-time favorite movies?
• What do they do online?
CURRENT SOCIETAL TOPICS
• How do they feel about illicit drug use?
• How about alcohol use; is social drinking acceptable?
• What about drinking and driving drunk, do they think it is alright to drink a beer and then drive?
• How do they feel about tobacco use and what should they do if offered drugs or tobacco?
• How do they feel about cultural and racial differences?
• Is global warming important to them?
• How do they feel about guns; will they want to own one?
• How much do they understand about politics and which party do they prefer?
• If they won the lottery, what would they do with the money?
• What political topics are they most interested in?
• What do they think of the longer school year?
• Are pit bulls really dangerous?
• Is space exploration really necessary?
• Would they like to volunteer or become an activist for a cause?
• Do they pray on a regular basis?
• Is spirituality important to them?
• What are their beliefs about God (any religion) and the hereafter?
• Would a ‘significant other’ need to have the same belief system?
• Would your child be comfortable coming to you with questions?
No, this is not a sit-down test; don’t throw a boat-load of questions at your child and expect them to crank out answers. The best way to learn about them is to put a topic on the table, like ‘teen pregnancy,’ and then discuss it debate-style; if this, then that, what happens next. What would be the benefits of a longer school year or having less homework? It’s not so much about what to think but how. The possibilities and topics are endless.
Since we parents know so much (ha ha ha) we tend to talk and lecture as if our children have no knowledge of their own and can’t formulate their own original ideas. (I see you’ve helped with school projects too) The beauty of children is that they do have inquiring minds and they will often astound us with their creativity and sheer genius. If we are comfortable enough in our own skin to be quiet, they will blossom and grow before our very eyes.
What are your thoughts on these matters? I’d like to hear about your experiences.
Talk with a Volunteer or Find a Group in New Jersey:
1-800-843-5437 or 1-800-THE-KIDS
Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686