Have a Conversation, You Might Learn Something!
Number 2 has been living her dream performing all around Japan for the past 4 months with The Young Americans. For the past 4 weeks, we were lucky enough to have her return home before she heads out again this time in the U.S., but now as a Company Manager. I have talked about just having Number 4 home now and how the family dynamics have changed with only one kid living with us. I have also talked about what it is like to have an “adult” child return to the house on a temporary basis. For the past couple of weeks, I have enjoyed managing both relationships. I think I have talked more over the last couple weeks while she has been home than I had in the month before when it’s just been Number 4 at home.
When she first returned home we spent time talking, shopping and eating her favorite foods. It was really nice to catch up with her. When she is out of the country, we never talk to her. The way I stay connected with her is to track her phone with Find My iPhone so at least we know she is alive and where she is sleeping at night. Kori and I love to ask all our kids lots of questions, but we know she isn’t a big fan of questions when she returns home, so we have to choose questions and timing wisely.
I have found that timing can be everything with our kids. There are times they are very talkative and don’t mind questions and sometimes we get the “eye roll” and we know that questioning won’t go over well. When the opportunity presents itself, we are ready and the interaction is really memorable. Number 2 and I are a lot a like with similar personalities so getting her to talk to me is pretty easy. I must admit, she will only answer so many questions before she is done with even me.
What I have come to realize about Number 2 is that when she is traveling all over the world, she constantly has to be “on” as a performer and a teacher and when she comes home, she wants to turn “off.” That doesn’t always work for me though because I want to maximize my time with her and find out everything I can about her life. I do respect her “off” time though and I try to give her plenty of space and alone time.
Raising adult kids is a constant negotiation. It is important to know your child’s personality and what makes them tick. Figuring out the right time to talk to them will lead to some great fulfilling conversations. Some times just being silent together can also lead to some awesome questions from your kids. When they feel you are interested in them and their thoughts and feelings and not just bombarding them with your questions, you find out how great their adult mind works and sometimes answering them takes some thought on your part.
Number 2 has very cut and dry opinions on some tough issues and as a dad I love her passion. As Kori has said to all of us many times, the adult brain doesn’t fully develop until 25 so I still have some time to impart my wisdom on her. Most of her views are similar to mine and those that are not, I like to present the other side of the story as well. Maybe she will hear it and think about her position and maybe it will just strengthen her already established view. Either way, the conversation is what is important. I want all our kids to have their own thoughts and opinions. My job is not to create a “mini me,” but rather to help them decide for themselves through thoughtful discussions, conversations and interactions.
My main point is talk to your kids. Ask them about what is important to them and then really listen to what they have to say. You have raised your kids well and they are smart thinkers and have real opinions about important stuff. Take the time to pay attention to them and let them know you are genuinely interested in their opinions. From my experience you will learn things from listening to them. They will have more respect and appreciation for you as well when they know how much you care about what they have to say. Don’t be that parent that just sits silently at the dinner table, ask probing questions and really be present. You will be amazed at what they have to say!