I’m in that season of life where I’m reading a lot of books about how to have difficult conversations with my kids. Unfortunately, I’m finding that it’s easier to read the books than it is to have the talks. Here’s what I’m learning about the talks:

I’m a professional. I lead and communicate to kids for a living.
I am equipped with all the right content. I have a small library of amazing resources.
Yet I still struggle with having the conversations that my kids need.

There are a lot of books that talk about sex, pornography, technology and other issues kids are facing, but very few break down the conversation on a very practical level. Even knowing exactly what questions to ask to begin the conversation can be a struggle. We want our kids to open up and share what they’re experiencing and seeing without feeling like we’re trying to dig specific information out of them. Parent Chat is a book that helps with this issue.

My friend Matt McKee wrote this book because it was the book he and his family needed that didn’t exist when he needed it most. I love the transparency of his story, how technology got away from him and his family and how he had to deal with it. We all fear the day that our kids are exposed to something they aren’t supposed to see and Matt shares how that happened in his own family and how they navigated the situation and installed new guardrails to protect and prepare their kids. This is the practical stuff every parent needs.

What makes this book a resource you’ll use for years is that it’s not a book dedicated to technology. Technology is going to change. How families interact with technology will morph over time. This book is about the conversations every family needs to have about technology. Although technology will change, the way we relate as a family and communicate stays the same. Sure, we want to protect our kids. Sure, we want to prepare them for the dangers they’ll encounter online. What matters more is the relationship we’re developing as a family based on open, honest and healthy conversations.

Here are a few ideas that really resonated with me from Parent Chat:

What Will This Do Vs. What Can it Do?

When bringing new technology into the home, we’re asking the wrong questions. We’re asking adult questions. We ask the question, “what will this do for me?” We look at the feature list, the instruction manual or walk through the tutorials to learn how this software is going to make some part of our life better, easier or more fun. This isn’t the question our kids are asking though. They’re asking, “what can this do?” They’re not looking at any documentation, they’re going to figure it out. They’re going to explore the capabilities and limitations of this new software and they will discover all the unintended capabilities. Parents are often shocked by what kids figure out with technology. As parents, we need to become explorers again. We need to ask the question, “What can it do?”

Fostering Great Conversations

I think we get super nervous about having difficult conversations because we’ve built these conversations into things they don’t need to be. Many of us had the “talk” with our parents. It wasn’t really a conversation though, was it? For many of us, it was an awkward, one-way conversation that we’d like to forget. Let’s not repeat this experience for our kids. Parent Chat breaks down some keys to great conversations.

Regularity – Conversations should be frequent and free-flowing. Regular conversations have a bigger impact than the scheduled conversations. Natural conversations are the best places to introduce challenging concepts. Sitting down to have “the talk” does the job, but it’s not natural or normal and our kids will process this SIGNIFICANT content as not natural or normal. Forget “the talk” and begin introducing critical content into the flow of regular conversations.

The Stuff of Life – Kids talk about what is important to them. How often do we dominate conversations talking about stuff that we want to talk about that doesn’t connect to what they  know, understand or care about. Talk about what they’re seeing, experiencing and things in their world. Be curious and show interest in them. It’s in these conversations that they’re more likely to open up and tell you what you’ll never get by interrogating.

Questions, Not Interrogation – Ask questions. Not questions that cause them to regurgitate information. Ask questions that start conversations. Ask open-ended questions. Don’t have an agenda, just draw them out. Your kids want to talk, your job as a parent is to draw them out and give them the space to talk about what they want to talk about.

Parent Chat is a book that will guide your family through the technology conversation, possibly the conversation you haven’t yet had. Not only will Parent Chat help you tackle pertinent technology issues, but it may change the conversational culture in your family which will help you with all the issues you’re facing.

Book Club: Parent Chat

parent-chatThe number 1 thing that parents say they need help with is how to parent kids who are always using technology. Parents feel overwhelmed, under equipped, and mostly lost. Parent Chat is here to help and give hope. In this very manageable book parents will learn what questions to ask, what matters most, and how to combat the fear that comes with their children knowing more about technology than they do. Technology can be hacked but the lasting relationship that comes from the parent child bond can not.

Parent Chat: The Technology Talk For Every Family is the resource to help any parent who has said, “I give up on trying to keep up with technology.”