In my last post, I reflected on the notion of life questions as a way to engage your children in different and perhaps more interesting conversations. I appreciate those of you who thought about this and responded.
The questions certainly need to fit your child’s age, although I’d perhaps push your own limits for what your children might be able to think about and speak about. For instance, one reader whose family is dealing with serious illnesses posed this question to her young children: “What would you do if one of your brothers or sisters faced a life-threatening illness?”
It might make sense to ease into these conversations if they reflect a dramatic shift in the pattern of conversations you’ve been having so far with your children.
Here are some life questions to consider as a starting place for developing your own:
- Who do you admire in life and why do you think highly of them?
- Do you think you should always tell the truth even if it hurts someone?
- What do you think is the best way to get over being upset?
- If you could do anything for a day, what would you do?
- If one of your parents got sick, what do you think you could do to help out?
- Is there something you would like to try?
- What would you really like to know more about?
- What do you worry about?
- What makes you happy?
- What are you most grateful for?
- What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?
- What makes someone a best friend? Is that the kind of friend you are?
- If you could work for anyone, who in the world would you like to work for?
- What is your favorite thing to do with friends?
- What activities make you lose track of time?
- What three jobs would you like to try in life?
- If money were no object, what job would you choose?
- What three places would you like to live in for a year? Why those places?
- What would you do differently if no one was going to judge you?
- What does having a cell phone and texting make possible?
- What one thing would you change about the world?
- How do you think you could make the world a better place?
These conversations are not about answers but about creating an opportunity for reflection and thinking, for understanding and connection.
Paul Axtell is author of Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids: Creating the relationship you want with the most important people in your life. He and his wife, Cindy, live in Minneapolis and love sharing time and conversations with their 13 grandchildren.