|Have you ever done something with the kids you thought was ordinary, only to find they were wide-eyed with amazement? When our kids are little, they can stare for hours at fish swimming, planes passing by, or big kids playing soccer. They can find joy in simple things like the feeling of spaghetti between their fingers… and on the walls and floors. Or bricks falling down… and us picking them up again! Then they grow older and there’s new excitement over simple things like seeing a movie. Making a new friend. Learning a different subject at school. The everyday things like running until they’re breathless. Getting confident with a new hobby. As adults, we can lose sight of how amazing these moments are. Then we look at our kids and are reminded of all the wonder and magic. |
When our kids are little, we raise them with our own values. Sometimes accidentally – monkey see, monkey do! And over time they take the values we’ve taught them, remold them, and make them their own. Based on the lives they’ve lived, the people they’ve met, and the lessons they’ve learned. That’s why it’s so important to listen to our kids and to learn from them. And if we teach them that it’s okay for them to have their own opinions, then they won’t be afraid to share their perspectives. They learn what’s important fast. And they voice what’s important without all the fuzziness that adult life brings.
They may be younger than us, but they still have this way of reminding us of what’s important. From time to time, they might even remind us of some hard truths. Like the importance of spending time with family. The need for more green and safe spaces to spend time with friends. The value in music, art, and other creative activities. The impact of bullying, and mental health challenges. Or their right to feel safe every day. The importance of having a safe place to go home to. And to express the things that are on our minds.
So how can we listen to our kids better? Making sure they know they can say what they think without being told they are wrong sets you up for good connection. Even when our kids’ opinions might surprise us, taking time to think through what they’ve said can make our conversations with them more comfortable. And instead of thinking we always know exactly what they mean, asking lots of questions, and checking we really do get what they are saying can help make their opinions clearer to us.
And during those times when we’re really finding it tough to connect with our kids, there’s heaps we can do. We can browse www.oneplace.org.au for local services, or we can give the guys at Parentline a call and talk through some ideas.
Making regular time and space to let our kids express their opinions is important too. Whether it’s simply having a chat or helping them share their views with governments through surveys, sharing art, or writing down what we think about certain issues. This stuff helps our kids see that we’ve got their backs, we value their opinions, and that we know they have it in them to make a difference.