Friday, June 15, 2012

Twelve Terrific Times to Talk--#12: Drive Time

#12: Drive Time

Besides the “techno free” zones and “sitting in your house” that I described in Talk Time #11, drive time has come to be a meaningful talk time for our family. (See Tip #4: Who’s Got Their Shoes On? for more one-on-one vehicle talking tips.) In this final post of this talk series, I just want to encourage families in general to reduce the “independent” times in the vehicle and make drive time more “community” time.

We could never afford newer vehicles, complete with game systems or televisions (we don’t even have game systems or televisions in our home either, come to think of it). Thus, our drive time for many years included reading aloud, listening to audios, playing road games, and, of course, talking. (Now with computers, the kids sometimes write papers, watch movies, or play games while we drive.) As is the case with most things that families cannot afford, not being able to afford newer vehicles with electronics built in has had an immensely positive result: community time vs alone time in the vehicle.

We have had literally hundreds of hours of teaching and talking time with our kids in our van through the years. We talk one-on-one if it is just Dad and child or Mom and child, but the majority of our times in the van have been community—times to read aloud and discuss what we are reading; listen to an audio and share in stories and teachings together; and talk about family history, our beliefs, current events, church sermons, family standards, personal goals, ministry goals, relationship issues, and much more.

If your family drive times are more like “islands in the stream” than “group hugs,” we would encourage you to declare certain drive times as family times. Just announce that on Sundays, for example, no games or independent activities will be allowed but instead family time will be instituted. Buy some new audio series’ that will interest everybody. Get some “Ungame” cards out of an old “Ungame” in your closet or from Goodwill and read these allowed and discuss them. Do whatever it takes to make drive time more family time---and more talk time.

It has been a joy to share with you our Twelve Terrific Times to Talk. There are so many other opportunities that we need to take advantage of in order to get into our children’s hearts. We just encourage you to do it! Talk. Listen. Share. Teach. Our kids will not be here at home with us forever. Let’s make use of the times that we have to share with them—and see if we can increase that “fifteen minutes of meaningful time with a parent” per week statistic to hours each week instead!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Twelve Terrific Times to Talk--#11: When You "Sit" in Your House

#11: When You “Sit” in Your House—Preferably in a “Techno-Free” Zone

Out of all of the times/places that we are told to teach our children diligently in Deuteronomy, “when you sit in your house” has got to be the most challenging. Over twenty years ago, Gregg Harris gave us the greatest advice in his parenting seminar (that we have used weekly and teach others to do the same): Whatever is important to you to do with your children should be attached to something that is already in the schedule. Thus, we attach reading together to rising/going to bed; we attach family prayer to meals; etc. However, finding time to “sit in your house” is another matter—and one that I would like to address as a talk time in this blog post.

How many of us “sit in our houses”? That is, we sit—not to watch television, pay bills, surf the web; play computer games; read the paper, etc., but just SIT. With my AOADD (Adult-Onset ADD—self diagnosed!!!), sitting is not one of my favorite things to do—unless I am doing something else at the same time (i.e. working!). However, this is an often-overlooked period of time that we truly need to tap into in order to talk with our children.

We have to force ourselves to “sit” with our children. We need to make it a habit to just take a seat next to one or more of them each day—no electronics, no work on our laps—and just “be.” These moments are when great communication times as we are “sitting in our house” will occur.

Not necessarily formal teaching, though there are definite times and places for that. But just “being.” Just saying, “Tell me about your day.” And truly listening. Times to listen to their hearts sing the “talking song” that our family adopted as a parenting cue many years ago: “Talk to me; show me that you care. Talk to me; listen to the words I say. Talk to me; there’s so much we can share. I know you love me when you talk to me.” Times to really look into their faces and observe their countenance—to read the signs that show that deep within that son or daughter is an ache, a question, an apprehension, an issue that needs Mom or Dad time.

Recent statistics indicate that teenagers spend an average of less than thirty minutes a week in a “meaningful relationship” with their mothers and fifteen minutes per week with their fathers. Fifteen to thirty minutes a week with Mom or Dad during some of the most critical years of a person’s life! (We have said for years that ages sixteen to twenty are the highest need years for our kids in terms of parental time and support.)

Another recent study of parents and children by an insurance company said that children WANT their parents to spend time with them. Eight out of ten said they resented being put in front of a television (instead of spending time with Mom or Dad); sixty percent said they wished their parents spent more time with them and worked less.

Parents who bring work home (instead of being available for their kids), put their own hobbies and interests before the kids; and are consumed with their home and possessions more than their kids are being coined as “Maybe later” parents. As a mom of six grown kids (ages seventeen through twenty-nine) and one younger (almost fourteen year old), I can tell you for sure that “later” never comes.

So…the first piece of advice we have for establishing talk time when you sit in your home” is to “sit in your home”! Set aside other things and make the time. Fire pits; bonfires; electronic-free rooms; porch swing moments; Mom & Dad’s bedroom for midnight meetings; family meals—all of these give opportunities to sit with our kids. Let’s make it happen!