As a parent, you want to raise children who are responsible and self-motivated.
You want them to do well in school, and you want them to communicate with you openly.
You also want to build a happy family.
But I’m sure you’ve already realised that you won’t achieve these goals easily.
Along the way, your children may have become disobedient, rebellious or disengaged. (This is especially likely if your children are pre-teens or teens.)
Your home environment may have become tense or even hostile.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry. This article will help.
I don’t claim to be a parenting expert — I’m still learning how to raise my two young boys well.
But over the years I’ve spoken to and worked with thousands of pre-teens and teens. As such, I understand how to get through to them.
In this article, I’ll share with you seven simple questions to ask your children, which will help you to reach your parenting goals.
Question #1: “What can I do to be a better parent?”
The simplest way to become a better parent is to ask your children what they think.
When you ask them Question #1, be prepared for an honest answer.
Your children may point out your flaws.
They may bring up incidents where you were unreasonable or inconsistent.
They may highlight ways in which you haven’t been a good role model.
Is this a scary proposition?
But the feedback you get will be invaluable in helping you to become a more effective parent.
Question #2: “What do you like/dislike about being in our family?”
Parents frequently complain to me that their children are withdrawn. They tell me that their children would rather spend time with their friends than family.
To get to the root of the issue, ask your children Question #2.
This question will help your children to see that there are good things about your family that they may have taken for granted.
At the same time, when they articulate what they dislike, you’ll understand what you can do to build a more united family.
Perhaps your children feel as if they don’t have enough freedom. Or perhaps they feel as if you’ve set too many house rules.
Whatever the case, this is an opportunity to brainstorm with your children. Together, you can find ways to make your home a happier one.
Question #3: “What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?”
Many parents focus too much on their children’s behaviour and academic performance. As a result, they don’t understand their children’s deeper concerns.
Children behave responsibly not when they understand why it’s important to do so. They behave responsibly when they feel understood by their parents.
By asking your children Question #3, you’ll get a better sense of their fears and aspirations.
This will help you to form a stronger parent-child bond.
Question #4: “How can we make our family more fun?”
Pre-teens and teens often tell me that they don’t like family time because it’s boring.
Furthermore, during family time they feel as if their parents might criticise or nag them.
It’s no wonder that pre-teens and teens don’t want to hang out with their parents!
Based on your children’s answer to Question #4, you’ll be able to think of ways to make family time more enjoyable.
After all, united families go through tough times together. But they also have plenty of fun together too!
Question #5: “What things are you excited about?”
This is a great question to help you understand your children better.
Maybe there’s a new game or show they like. Or maybe they can’t wait for their upcoming performance.
No matter what their answer is, don’t lecture them.
For example, your children might start going on and on about the latest game that all their friends are playing. As you listen, you might be tempted to warn them not to become addicted to the game.
You might also be tempted to remind them to focus on their academics.
But reserve the lecture for another time.
When your children tell you what they’re excited about, share in their excitement. Do your best to find out why they’re so thrilled.
This simple act will mean a lot to them.
Question #6: “Is there anything I can help you with?”
Parents’ natural instinct is to nag and remind their children. But children don’t respond well to this approach.
If you observe that your children are going through a rough time, ask them if there’s anything you can do to help.
Don’t be offended if their answer is “nothing”. They might not be ready to receive help, or they might want to work through the challenge on their own.
When you offer assistance in a non-judgmental and non-intrusive way, your children will appreciate it.
They’ll then be more willing to seek help from you if they need it.
Question #7: “Do you feel as if I understand you?”
I often hear from pre-teens and teens that their parents just don’t understand them.
When children don’t feel understood, they begin to tune out the advice their parents give them.
Parents perceive this behaviour as rebellious or defiant, but it isn’t.
It’s simply a human need to first feel understood.
If your children don’t feel as if you understand them, then explore the issue further.
Hear them out, and create a safe environment for them to share their feelings.
By doing so, you’ll lay the foundation for a healthy parent-child relationship and a happy home.
You’ve made it to the end of this article, so I know that you’re a committed parent.
You’re committed to raising your children well.
You’re committed to building a strong family.
You’re committed to becoming the best parent you can be.
The next step is to take action.
Every month, ask your children two to three of the questions listed in this article. (Download the free bonus PDF below to learn three additional questions.)
Mark it down on your calendar or set a reminder so you won’t forget.
And when you have the conversation with your children, be open-minded. Make it clear to them that you value their opinions and honesty.
If they have negative feedback, don’t take it personally. After all, the fastest way to improve as a parent – and in life, too – is to get regular feedback.
As you reflect and act on the feedback you receive from your children, you’ll become a more effective parent.
I’m sure your children will become more mature and responsible too!
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