"How was your day?"
"What did you do today?"
This daily exchange between parent and child is heard around the world countless times every day. Yet we know parents genuinely want to hear about their child's day and we believe that children really do want to share it with you. And it's important for so many reasons.
In the New York Times, Jonathon Franzen reviewed the book "Reclaiming Conversation" by Sherry Turkle. He wrote "Through the conversational attention of parents, children acquire a sense of enduring connectedness and a habit of talking about their feelings, rather than simply acting on them." His review is found at https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/books/review/jonathan-franzen-reviews-sherry-turkle-reclaiming-conversation.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0.
Turkle writes about the importance of family conversations to include "the development of trust and self-esteem, the capacity for empathy, friendship and intimacy.” I feel like we are the first parent generation grappling with fingertip-tech with our children. Board games are now apps games. Research projects have transitioned from the library to Google. Playing outside with friends has become a headset in front of an Xbox. A conversation face-to-face is now a snapchat. (And each of these is probably already at a new level that I'm not aware of because I can't keep up.) I am grateful for the ease and speed at which I can access info as needed for absolutely anything. And I am frustrated by it at the same time. I am perplexed by my role as referee of screen time and working to encourage conversation, playing, and other kid stuff "the old fashion way". I persist because I do know (as research in both encyclopedias and Google tells me) that consistent family conversation builds a child's self confidence, increases intellectual curiosity, improves problem solving and communication skills, enhances logical reasoning, and decreases depression, obesity, and at-risk behaviors. Please re-read that last sentence for optimal impact. Conversations between parents and children strengthen family bonds, improve academics, and have direct influence on kids making good choices through their teen years.
Plus, I love to hear my kids' questions, perspective, ideas, worries and laughter. So when there's tech that sparks family conversation, empowers kids to talk, and encourages stories to be shared, I'm embracing it. A father who's son is using Dinner-x-Change said "I heard more detail about his day than ever before. Plus we had a positive supportive, connected feeling as dinner ended." Now that's something to snap-talk about.