Seize the Moment

father and son talking and communicating in carWhen my children were in elementary school, I got off work about one hour after they were dismissed from school. For a few years they went to day care for that hour. When I picked them up, they were full of tales about school. Because I had them trapped in the car for a brief time, they talked. In fact, they talked so much that I had to designate the mid-point of the trip home as the place where they changed which child could talk.

Why children only say “fine” when we ask about school

So often, we have trouble getting our children to share what’s going on in their lives. When they come into the house, they are ready to get outdoors with their friends or to connect with them electronically. We miss the golden moment when they are willing to talk to us.

Later, we say, “How was school today?”


“Did anything special happen?”


Basically, we know nothing about our child’s day. And, it is important to find out what’s going on with them for that seven-plus hours of each day.

Insist on time together to talk

If you want to improve communication with your child, insist on a time together. If you both arrive home at the same time, it might work well to sit at the kitchen table and enjoy a snack. If everyone arrives home at different times, see if you can get your family around the dinner table together. Turn off all electronic devices. It seems like “breaking bread” together is a wonderful way to get kids to talk, whether it is a snack or a meal.

Need help finding something to talk about?

Do you find that you have nothing to talk about? Mary DeMuth  has a new book out with some great conversation starters. Check it out at Amazon.

Product DetailsHowever you make it work, remember that getting your kids to talk to you is vital to their well-being. Research has shown that kids who have a good relationship with their parents are far less likely to get into trouble. A good relationship is built on a foundation of communication.

Even when you feel like you are hitting a brick wall, keep trying. Kids appreciate your effort even if they act like they think you’re clueless.



  1. Teri Jones says

    I think I read in one of your columns that boys and men communicate better when they are not face to face. I’ve found that to be true with my boys. Sometimes I “trap” them in the car, sometimes we take a trip to Sonic. Other times I allow them to snack on the couch while we sit side by side. The crumbs they leave behind can be cleaned up–well worth the open conversation that results.

  2. Carole A. Bell says

    Thanks for your comments, Teri. You are right. The crumbs can be cleaned up. That is a small price to pay for finding out what is on your boys’ minds. I helped my son wash his car a lot when he was in high school. That kept us looking at the dirt specks instead of each other while we talked.

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