Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Written by: Christina Silveira
I remember growing up as a kid, dinner was one of my favourite times of the day. It was the opportunity for our family to sit down together. We always made a point of having a meal together without anyone missing or eating at different times. We would laugh, have important discussions, sometimes cry, and share what was on our mind. It was a time of the day that no matter what else was going on, it was just us. No interruptions, no TV, no answering the phone when it rang.
After having my own children, this tradition has really stuck with me and we make a point, every night, to ensure we are sitting down together to have dinner - regardless if everyone is eating or not. This is such an important part of the day that I’ve come to learn is very sacred. It’s a point where everyone is gathering as a family and we are talking, laughing, crying and sharing what’s on our minds; just as I did when I was growing up.
This is also an opportunity for us to discover our children on a different level. We don’t just talk about how the weather was or how school was. These questions don’t dig deep enough to allow us to truly understand what’s going on in our child’s minds, their perceptions of various aspects of life, and it doesn’t encourage critical thinking. When I had my children, I made a promise to myself that they would be the types of children that ask a million questions until they got an answer they were satisfied with. That they would push the boundaries of what people are afraid to talk about and be inquisitive in that realm. They would ask tough questions and get tough answers but it would deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Now in the beginning I struggled with what sorts of conversations were we going to have. What questions could I ask them that require higher level thinking and answering beyond the simple yes/no questions? What questions should I ask them that they could show me their angry, sad, empathetic, loving, generous sides of who they are?
You may be asking, so what Christina? Why is this even important? Well I’ll tell you this. Children that are challenged to be critical thinkers, think outside the box and ask questions until they are satisfied with the answer, they are more aware of the world around them and can make better decisions that serve them - not other people. They are more self-aware, they are able to open up and show their love in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. They are gaining an understanding of themselves, the people in their lives and the world we live in. Children must become explorers of themselves first, and when they do, their eyes open to the other people in their lives. It takes work and practice to teach curiosity, awareness and compassion, but it’s one that I’ve promised myself to endure because raising children with these characteristics is so important to me and their futures. Having strong willed children that are self-confident is so powerful.
So you’re probably thinking, OK, but where do I find these questions? I’m so tired at the end of the day that all I can think of is, ‘How was your day today?’ or ‘How was school?’. One afternoon as I was scrolling Pinterest, I came across this list of wonderful questions. It’s genius and an amazing start. Within the file, there’s a set to have on your dinner table and a set you can keep in the car. I absolutely love the car idea because often times I feel stuck on what to talk about! Being able to pull out a question in the car gets the conversation going every single time. Since my oldest started school, on our drives home I had started asking her questions like: ‘What was your favourite thing about school today and why?’, ‘What is something you did to help a friend today or they did to help you?’, ‘What was something special you did today that made you smile?’ and so on.
Before I share the resource with you, I want you to be OK with silence. Be OK with the fact that when you ask a question, your child needs time to process and think about what they’re going to say. This will take longer if your child is not accustomed to answering higher level questions that allow them to dig deep within. So be OK with them taking their time because when they answer it will be something genuine and not rushed. The beautiful conversations that come from one key question is truly special. Not only are you becoming closer as a family, you’re getting insight into the tiny humans before you and seeing how they think, feel, act and perceive the world and themselves. This only strengthens our bonds and deepens our understanding of each other. Start with one question and see how it goes. If they want to pull another, go for it! The questions are perfect for children of any age, even adults! Enjoy and have fun!
The Key Jar - Click this hyperlink for the document.
“We are explorers of ourselves and the people we love. Love is the ongoing process of unlocking each other, and thoughtful questions are the keys we use to do the unlocking.”