Academy Advice

LA Family Support--May

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Developmental Relationships: Expand Possibilities

Getting Started: Ideas for Parents

Here are some ways moms, dads, and other parenting adults expand possibilities with their kids:

  • Find ways for your children to spend time with people who are different from your family.
  • When your kids seem curious about an activity, topic, or issue, ask questions such as “what strikes you as interesting about this?”
  • Introduce your kids to a wide range of people, places, ideas, cultures, and vocations. Start with ones they’re curious about.
  • Encourage your children to try things they might be interested in. Maybe try it together.
  • Connect your kids with people you know in your extended family or community who can explore with them their areas of personal interest and strength.
  • Model being a curious learner by asking questions and sharing what you’re learning in your own own life. Learn things from your kids.

Discussion Starters with Your Kids

  1. What is one thing you really enjoy (such as music, ideas, foods) that someone else in the family introduced you to? Tell the story of how they introduced you to it.
  2. Think about the different people your family spends time with. In what ways are they similar to your family? How are they different from your family? Think about similarities and differences such as culture, political ideology, religious beliefs or practices, birth country or nationality, sexual orientation, food choices, and hobbies and interests. Are most of your family’s friends mostly like you, or do you see a lot of differences?
  3. What do you find to be enjoyable about spending time with people who are different from your family? What can make it hard?
  4. Who are (or were) significant adults outside the immediate family who have or had a big influence on your life? How did they influence you?
  5. Who has helped you deal with disappointment or working through challenges when you’ve been trying to achieve something important to you? How did they do it?
  6. What are ways we can support each other in our family when we run into roadblocks to our goals or dreams?

Tips for Everyday Conversations

Setting some time aside to talk can be hard with competing schedules and different personalities. Try these ideas for finding ways to connect.

  • Many children don’t like “just talking.” So be open to conversations while playing basketball, taking a hike, working on a service project, or driving in the car.
  • Remember that everyone is comfortable with different situations. Some kids may prefer talking in public places like restaurants, fitness centers, or parks. Others prefer the privacy of home.
  • Eliminate distractions during family times. Turn off cell phones or TV, or turn down the music. Play a board game instead of watching TV.
  • Designate a regular family time. Have a weekly family night, a monthly outing, or a daily check-in before bed. Do what works best for your family.
  • Try starting conversations in new ways—instead of always asking how school was, greet your child with a reflection about your own day, such as “Hey, it’s good to see you—something exciting happened at work today that I’ve been wanting to tell you about,” or “Tell me something exciting about your day.”
  • Unless what you’re doing is very important, be willing to stop and listen to your child when he or she has something to say. When you cannot stop to listen, explain the reason and make a plan to reconnect later. For example, you could say, “I want to hear more about this, but I’m running late for work. Will you tell me more about it during dinner tonight?”

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