One of my favorite things my dad did when I was growing up was corner us for quick parent child interviews. It was such a quick way for him to check in and made me feel loved. I really wanted to do this with my kids, too.
I love this question that came in about parent child interviews:
Hello! I just came across a post on your blog about motherhood and you talked about your father cornering you and your siblings for interviews. You seem like you have an amazing father! I only wish I could be that amazing of a mother — I do try. Anyway, I would love to start interviewing my 6 year old daughter but I’m stuck on how to get the ball rolling. What kind of questions would your father ask you? Which ones were the most important to ask in your opinion? I appreciate any help you can give me as I’m drawing a blank on what questions to ask my daughter. I’m truly inspired by your post and am looking forward to reading your blog further.
Great question! I totally wish I were that amazing of a parent too! I’m so grateful for my Dad and all he’s taught me, and still tries to teach, through his example.
parent child interviews are all about connection
Back to the question… which is a really good one because questions are key. But listening is even more key than figuring out what questions to ask. I know I sound like a broken record when I say how much I love the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. It has the best tips for great communication. I don’t even remember the questions my dad asked… I’m sure different ones each month. I just remember the feeling of knowing that he was looking out for me. And he wanted to know the details.
I wanted to do that same thing for my kids, but it definitely works differently in our home. Note that I don’t do this overly regularly. It’s a grand idea to do it once a month. Sometimes I’ll go for a stretch of being really on-the-ball about it, and other times I’ll go through a LONG time without touching my “interview” book… If I’m being real, there is one year gap in there. That’s just how life rolls. And that’s ok by me. Because I know it’s there and I just try my best.
SPIRITUAL CREATION BOOK
What book? You may ask. Well, years ago my brother got me a “spiritual creation book.” It’s just a large, black book filled with blank paper. I use it for just that: “spiritual creation.”
Spiritual creation is anything I want to create or nurture with help from Heaven. Things Dave and I discuss about what we want to do as a family. Notes on each child. We also include notes TO each child. I have kept some of their “Mother’s Day letters in there. That’s how our “family motto” came to be. I have all my brainstorming doodling of the words we wanted to incorporate into that thing in that book.
It’s so interesting to me that my “goals” have remained so much the same for so many years: Be organized, be THERE, be patient. Boy, I guess it’s a good thing life is long cause it sure takes a long time to work on those things!
In a way, I kind of want this book to become a family tool kind of like my growing-up family’s “ancestor book”. One of my favorite things that book has come to be is a record of the interviews I have with my kids.
How to start holding interviews with your child
Parent child interviews might sound really formal to you. However, if you feel like you’re struggling to get your kids to open up and talk with you, implementing a more regular check-in is a great way to get to know them and help them share important things that are going on in their lives. You don’t have to make it a big deal either. Call them over, sit them down, and just start asking them questions about their lives.
At first I tried to hold all the interviews with all my kids on one day once a month, but there was no way that little idea was happening. So then I decided that since there are four or five Sundays each month. Max, my first child, would be the first Sunday. The second Sunday would be Elle’s interview (second child), and so on. Sure, there aren’t fifth Sundays very often but with Lucy’s needs she seems to get “interviews” much more regularly just because of the way life is with her, so she’s good.
That works really great when I am conscientious about it. If it doesn’t work to do the kids on their own “week,” I try to cram in more one Sunday… Again, there are lots of Sundays this doesn’t work out at all. It’s just the goal that it’s there which makes me more conscientious.
What to ask in a parent child interview
Not sure where to start? These two simple questions are perfect to get the ball rolling.
1) What are you most excited about in life right now?
2) What are you most worried about?
These questions often lead into discussions about different things on their minds. They give me a little peek into how they’re doing if I take the time to really listen and ask follow up questions. Just get curious.
After a little check in, talk about how they’re doing Physically, Socially, Mentally and Spiritually and make little goals they can work on for the month.
Another good question to incorporate in would be “who have you noticed that may need your help?” I want so much for them to be noticing those around them and reach outside of themselves and if we talk about it each month maybe they’ll start being more aware of those needs.
Another question my sister Saydi and I were just talking about is “Is there anything that has happened that has made you feel uncomfortable lately?” Her wise point is that if kids know there is going to be a safe place to bring anything up (an interview) they will feel so happy to have that opportunity if there’s anything specific they are worrying about. Sometimes it’s hard for kids to bring up stuff on their own. Having a safe forum for sharing things can be so helpful.
I used to have the kids bring their journals so they can write down the things they want to work on. But now I have them bring their “Dream” binders we made and they write down their monthly stuff in there.. I love it because on our next interview we can review what the concerns/worries were from the time we had an interview before and it helps us put everything in perspective.
This framework gives me something to go with.
It’s all a work in progress, but it feels good to have a plan.
Anyway, that’s what we do for what it’s worth! This is the perfect way to connect with them regularly and find out what’s new in their lives.
Love that last question. I'm putting interviews on our list of "things to do when we get our acts together"
Love this! Thank you, Shawni!
Shawni, thank you for sharing! His ideas are great!
Love it, thanks for sharing!!
I can't wait to do this someday with my 2-year-old and baby in utero 🙂 In the meantime, I'm starting to read your parents' books 🙂
Thank you for sharing! I think i need a spiritual creation book. Any idea where your brother bought yours?
Thank you so much for sharing this! Such a powerful treasure! I'm excited to start purposefully interviewing my 4 little ones, often… I am new to your blog and appreciate your heart for motherhood, homemaking, family, adventure, and especially faith. Thank you, from a new friend!
I gave a question.. max is graduating.. what is his plans??.. is he going on a mission right away? College? Etc.. Also what career path is he thinking. After reading your blog for years we feel like part of the family lol
awesome possum! thanks for sharing this 🙂
You are truly one of the most devoted and deliberate mothers I've ever "known". 🙂 Thank you.
LOVE seeing what you have done with this! That is a bunch of lucky kids to have such a magnificent mom!
This is such a great idea! I will try to implement this in my home. Your blog is great!
I love the idea of individual interviews . . . a couple of questions . . . do you do them together with your husband or do you take turns meeting with each child? At what age did you start the interviews?
Shawni, We had our first interview today with one of our children to try it out and I just wanted to thank you for sharing what you do and your ideas for questions. It was so helpful. Thank you for all you do to share how to be a deliberate parent. I love your blog, photos, and insights on mothering.