By Susan Ciancio
With summer here and in full swing, we parents may actually get to enjoy some of the lazy days of summer along with our kids. Whether we homeschool or send our kids to school, whether we work in the house or out, we have new and different opportunities for connecting with our kids than we do during the school year. These are the days to take a deep breath, regroup, and just enjoy some family time.
Hopefully the hectic pace of life has slowed just a bit for you. But whether you get a chance to relax or if your life actually feels more like someone hit the fast-forward button, we all want to have meaningful conversations with our kids. If you’re like me, you might find yourself thinking that your conversations with your older kids lack substance sometimes. Sure, you’re a constant presence in their lives. You play games, you chat, you make them lunch and dinner, but you don’t address important topics of the day.
There’s so much you want to tell them, but you aren’t sure how to do it. Maybe you’re hesitant to bring up something heavy. Maybe you don’t know how to begin a conversation that may make your kids really think. Maybe you’re afraid they’ll roll their eyes and tune you out. Or maybe you’ve just never thought about it.
Our presence in our kids’ lives is of utmost importance, but so is our guidance. We can have fun throwing a ball around, going bowling, playing board games, or racing Mario Kart, but we are doing our children a disservice if this is all we do during our time with them.
So, this summer, definitely take time to relax. But also create and seize moments to teach your children about our faith, about morality, and about things they may be exposed to. Believe me, whether they see or hear things at school, on the playground, in the dugout, online, or in song lyrics or movies, they see more than we know. And they know more than we did at their ages. No matter how we try to protect our children, we can’t shelter them forever. We must give them the foundation to go out into the world and take action based on what we’ve taught. When we give them this foundation, they will hear those song lyrics and turn the station. They will see bullying at school and step forward to protect the weak. They will hear vulgarity spoken away from adults and refuse to laugh along with the other kids. They will see ads for birth control during their favorite team’s baseball game and think, “I don’t want that for my future wife” or “I am not comfortable doing that to my body or my baby.”
This series of five easy ways to start conversations with your kids will not only help enhance your summer, but will enhance your relationship with your children as well. Spread over this week and next, this series will give you awesome ideas about how to talk to your kids, no matter what age. So, let’s dive right in to the first suggestion.
With Father’s Day coming this weekend, we have the perfect opportunity to talk with children about the importance of fathers within their families. As you shop for the important men in your lives—whether they be fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles, godfathers, or any other special man—talk about why you value this person. Share the qualities he possesses that evoke your admiration. Discuss the things he does that help shine the light of Christ in your lives, and talk about how your child can learn a lesson from him.
Explain to boys that they should emulate his behavior, and explain to girls that they should look for men who share these qualities. Engage children in a conversation about why these men are so significant. In a card to their dad, have children include a list of the things they like most about him. Share some of your favorite memories or stories about how awesome this man is. This is your chance to highlight the admirable qualities of the important man (or men) in your lives.
Fatherhood is one of the most important jobs in the world, and we should thank dads and any father figures for all they do every day for us. By honoring fathers and the important role men play in the lives of their children, we help build a culture of life, and we teach the next generation how to sustain that culture.
Susan has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 16 years, she has worked as a professional editor, editing books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials, and website content. In addition, she has 15 years of homeschool experience and has taught several community college classes. She lives with her three amazing children in Tennessee.