Creating a Culture of Conversation
The house I grew up in had a breakfast bar. My mom had three stools at the counter where each one of us could have a spot.
We started the day there, sometimes in shifts. It’s where breakfast was served. Mom would be in the kitchen cleaning up, making lunches or investigating potential for that night’s dinner. She was busy with her daily duties, with life, but if we were actually awake, conversation would flow.
That counter was also the place we would do our homework in the evening. I remember many a writing assignment where she would talk through assignments until my creative juices were flowing and I could put pen to paper. It was a setting that encouraged conversation. It was a gathering place.
Now that I am an empty nester, I have a breakfast bar in my kitchen. I always regretted that the house the boys grew up in did not have that. Our dining room table often became our gathering place.
When the boys were doing their work, I would be there with them, doing my thing, but being present. Just being close allowed for moments of conversation. That table was also the spot for family game time. It would be filled with laughter and fun, but in the midst the chaos, moments of conversation could take place.
The car was another spot for conversation. It was especially good when we had errands to run one on one. When raising boys, conversations do not flow quite as freely. But, between listening to worship music, an Adventures in Odyssey or two, there would be nuggets of conversation.
We have to intentionally make time and space for it. If my boys were overly hungry or tired, it was not the time for conversation. But if I fed them and gave them some chill time, a properly placed question could spark a rich moment of conversation.
Today’s world offers new challenges. If the car is a place where everyone is engaged on technology or has headphones in, chats will not take place. It might require the family to unplug in order to make room for conversation.
I really think God was teaching about creating this culture in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Verse 7 says, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV)
In the midst of the ordinary, try to create moments of conversation…Spiritual Conversation.
With patience and understanding you will find rich moments to share with your children.
Study each teen. When a conversation falls flat, do not get angry or frustrated with them. Analyze the moment. Could there have been better timing? Would there be a better place? Could you have used a better tone or words?
Learn what works with each person. Sometimes starting with a question rather than a statement opens the door. It tells them you want to listen, not just talk. I cherish some of the rich nuggets of conversation that took place in the middle of ordinary life, just because we made space for it.
Do you have a culture that encourages conversations?