Recently, I have had a number of people with auto-immune conditions consult with me. Upon digging into their history and personal story, one of the biggest triggers that halts their health progress is related to their personal parent-child interaction. Many of these people have already done massive changes in their nutrition and lifestyle. The major issue has been a lot of hurt feelings and chronic stress around a close relationship that is strained.
My personal relationship with my parents wasn’t that close growing up. They did anything and everything possible to provide for me and my 2 siblings, but my parents weren’t the 2 people that I would go to first if I needed help with something. I would either figure it out myself or go to friends. It’s my own baggage and I am the reason for that distance relationship.
I will say now, as an adult, I’m closer to my mom than I ever have been. Unfortunately, it’s not the case with my dad. His mental capacity at this point in life makes me wonder if he would recognize me or know whom I am, if he spotted me somewhere other than at home.
My wife’s family is much closer. There’s a friendship established with healthy respect between parents and kids. Something that sticks out to me about them is that the kids (now all grown with families of their own) love going ‘home’ even when they don’t have to. I hope to create that with my kids. I want them to come home even when they don’t have to. Don’t get me wrong, they won’t be living under my roof as adults but are free to visit anytime.
I currently have 3 boys, ages 4, 2, and 6 months. Parenting my kids when they are older is one of those things that I think about often. I’ve joked that with my oldest, we will either be super close, or we will be fist fighting every day.
Something I have picked up from many of my patients as well as my pastor, Kelly Williams, is to go on dates with your kids. I love to hear the kids come into the office and tell me all the things they did on their date with their mom or dad. They are so excited and feel so special and I plan on doing the same with my kids.
As they age, I will take them on dates, just me and them…probably to a juice bar. The way pastor Kelly does it, is he takes each kid on a date every 2 months. On this date, he asks them a series of 23 questions.
I’m writing these questions down here mostly for my benefit so I don’t lose them. But I also challenge you to take your child on a date to ask them these series of questions. A good starting age is Kindergarten and to continue this as they go through high school until graduation.
The key is to ask and just listen. Don’t interject. Don’t get defensive. Don’t make excuses. Just listen to their honest answers. Beware that their answers are going to change as they age. Hopefully by developing this open communication at an early age will translate into them taking my advice and wisdom when they are teenagers and having that desire to come home when don’t have to.
Pin this, book mark this, or copy and paste it – The 23 Questions.
1. What do you like most about being in our family?
2. What do you like least about our family?
3. What would you change about our family?
4. What do you like most about Daddy (or if you’re the mom, insert you)?
5. How does Daddy show you love and make you feel special?
6. How would you describe your relationship with (sibling name)?
7. What is the worst thing that could happen to you?
8. How would you describe school?
9. How would you describe church?
10. What do you like least about Daddy (or if you’re the mom)?
11. What do you wish Daddy (of if you’re mom) would do more of?
12. What do you want to be when you grow up?
13. Is there anything you don’t like about you? If so, what?
14. What do you like most about yourself?
15. Do you think you are pretty/handsome?
16. How do you know you are pretty/handsome?
17. Do you feel ugly? When? Why?
18. How would you describe home?
19. What do you enjoy about your life?
20. How would you describe your relationship with your mom (the other parent)?
21. How would you describe mom and dad’s relationship?
22. Anything you wish to tell me but don’t feel safe enough to do so?
23. Anything you want me to know that I didn’t ask?
I would love to hear your feedback as you do this. Were you happy? Were you hurt? Did it bring you closer together? Did it open more lines of communication? Did it start WWIII?