“Parenting Today” is the www.Picturebookparenting.com response to articles and other writings on the Internet or in books that could have an impact on your parenting. This is a chance for us all to think about how the thousands of parenting ideas from this site over the years actually apply to real situations.
Today’s post is inspired by a conversation in the book RISE AND SHINE by Anna Quindlen. Leo, a college-age boy, is talking to his aunt and says the following.
‘”I don’t know. It seems like she’s (his mom) spending a lot of time thinking about stuff, and I just figure you guys (his mom and aunt) don’t get enough time thinking about stuff. When you’re a kid, you spend all your time in your room listening to music, playing video games. but mainly thinking about stupid stuff. I mean, not all stupid – like when Jack Wallace’s little brother had some weird cancer, he was thinking about important stuff. And when Nate’s parents split. But like, the point is that we just have a lot of time to think. But you guys – there’s just no time. Work, dinner, trips, whatever.'”
How much time do you take to think about stuff? How often do you talk about that stuff with someone you trust? Let Leo’s words remind you that adults need time to think about stuff, too. Did you know that just thinking about things can help you make sense of them, figure out next steps, and lighten the pressure of your adult responsibilities?
Just like Leo, your child is thinking about stuff – when he’s in his room alone, at night before going to sleep, on long rides in the car. What do you think she could be thinking about? Are you making time for you and your child to talk about things he is thinking about?
Four ways to invite your child to talk about what is on his mind.
- Let yourself be the example. “The other day I was thinking about when you go off to college. Do you ever think about that?
- Say something like, “In the car on the way home, you looked liked you were in your own world. I am wondering what you were thinking about. Want to share?” (Remember that “no” or silence is an acceptable answer. Sometimes kids want their thoughts to be theirs and theirs alone. Your job is just to give them the chance to talk, if they want to. Don’t force them.)
- Think back to when you were young. “When I was your age and my uncle was sick, I used to think about what would happen to me if I had no one to take care of me. Have you ever had thoughts like that since your friend’s dad died?”
- Use the calm of night. When saying goodnight, sit on or next to the bed and rub her arm or back for a minute. Ask, “What kinds of things do you think about when you are going to sleep at night?”
What do you think about Leo’s ideas. Do adults need more time to think about stuff? Please use the comments section to respond.
For learning more about your children and yourself as a parent:
SELF-ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke
GROWING UP AGAIN: PARENTING OURSELVES, PARENTING OUR CHILDREN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson