A question you should ask your kids …

A lot of dads want to connect with their kids, they just aren’t sure how. The truth is, dads and kids can connect at any time — while doing dishes together, driving to soccer practice, or while running errands.

Here’s a fun game that you can play anytime to help you connect with your kids. It’s called “I ask a question, you ask a question.” It a pretty simple concept …

You get to ask your kid a question, and your kid promises to answer. And then your kid gets to ask you a question, and you promise to answer.

aa-dad-school-age-son-beach-talking-smilesThis will help you learn more about your children. Part of effective fathering is getting to know them better—gaining insight into who they are, what motivates them, what frustrates them, and so on. You can then use these insights to meet their needs and better connect with your kids.

One of the best ways to connect with kids is surprisingly simple and direct. All you have to do is ask questions. It may seem silly, but think about how you get to know new acquaintances. The first conversations are full of questions:

  • “So, where are you originally from?”
  • “Tell me how you met your spouse.”
  • “What kind of work do you do?”

Your kids are constantly growing and changing, experiencing new pressures from school and friends along the way. In each new stage, they become like a new acquaintance—a person you must discover. Dad, your job is to make a continuing commitment to getting to know them.

So next time you have some alone time with your kids, ask a few questions:

  • “So who’s a new friend you’ve made this year?”
  • “Oh yeah, what do you like about her?”
  • “What sort of things do you do together?”

Then use this information to help coach your children. The first goal is to better understand and connect with your child. But there’s also a secondary benefit: If you find out that your child is worried about basketball tryouts or an upcoming science test, you can be sensitive to that area and offer more encouragement—and devote more time to helping him practice or study. And if some more serious storm is on your child’s horizon, chances are this question-asking habit will help you see the trouble coming sooner. You might not be able to prevent the storm, but it won’t be a surprise that shocks and paralyzes you. You can start preparing a positive response.

If your kids are private, use the “I ask a question, you ask a question” game as something fun that allows them to open up in a non-invasive way.

Now, a few words of caution. Your purpose is not to interrogate or pry, but just to connect with your kids and get to know them. In fact, you should try to keep your cool regardless of what your child tells you. Remaining calm, even while discovering information you don’t like, will keep your kids talking and allow you to access important information you can later use to help your children make better decisions. And don’t take it personally if your child (especially an older one) doesn’t want to play along. Just save your questions for another time.

When you make a genuine effort to connect with your kids, your children will sense that you are truly interested in them, and they will be more open and sharing. But for now, if your kids don’t volunteer information, don’t force it.

Keep up the good work, dad!

Let us know how you connect with your kids and extract information that allows you to be a better dad. Leave a message on Facebook.

Watch the replay of the Fathering Breakthrough Event

Join Dr. Ken Canfield and a handful of friends and partners as we give an update about our efforts to inspire and equip fathers all over the world.

There may be no more important work than turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and that’s what this is all about. We’re seeking to repair, rebuild and restore effective fathering for the benefit of children and families everywhere.

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