Family life

How do you get your kids to open up?

In an effort to get her son to open up about his feelings, Jennifer Pinarski heads outside.

Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

You wouldn’t know this upon meeting my son for the first time (because like many seven-year-old boys, he has a hard time sitting still and talks non-stop about Lego), but he’s very reserved and doesn’t talk about his feelings often—or any other non-Lego thoughts in his head. In many ways, he’s like me, and prefers to work through a problem in his head, often stewing about a situation for days or weeks… until an opportunity for a verbal vomit arises.

Read more: Tips for better communication with your preschooler>

At the same time, getting to spend time alone with my son is something I treasure, as it’s the best chance I get to ask him what is going on inside his head, at least without his younger sister interrupting. Because Gillian isn’t on two wheels yet, riding our bicycles together is a special treat for Isaac and me, and provides a great opportunity for us to talk. Maybe it’s because he feels more comfortable without me staring him in the face and grilling him about the inner-workings of his brain, but the conversations we have while biking are the best. Here are just some of questions he’s asked me lately:

  • Why aren’t grown-ups good at Mario Kart?
  • What is adoption?
  • Don’t you like make-up any more? You look prettier when you wear it.
  • Why would someone want to give up their child for adoption?
  • Why would someone want to adopt a child that wasn’t theirs?
  • Are you ever going to give me away?
  • Where is God?
  • How come we don’t go to church?
  • Are the penguins all going to die one day?
  • How come people don’t try to do to the moon more often?
  • Is our house going to get tsunami’ed?
  • Why do cereal boxes have recipes on them?
  • How come you didn’t find my clear Lego brick today?
  • Why do we always have pancakes on the weekend, and never during the week?
  • How come we have to keep moving from house to house?

Read more: Buttermilk pancakes with winter fruit salad>

Some of these questions I have no idea how to answer, like the Mario Kart one. Others, like his questions about adoption (stemming from a friend whose family is going through the process of adopting children), are truly puzzling to him and are just as hard for me to answer.

So far he hasn’t asked how babies are made, but I’m sure that questions will come during another ride.

How do you spark conversations with your kids? Tweet me @jenpinarski