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How do You Have Deep Conversations When Your Kids Interrupt You All the Time?

Jeremy:
What’s up guys, welcome to another Five Minute Fatherhood. How in the world do you have deep conversations with your kids around if they interrupt you every five seconds? This is a really practical challenge and I wanted to give you guys a little tip that both Jeff and I use and try really hard to train our kids in, but this is not an easy area to train your kids in, but it’s very much worth it.

I wanted to talk about this because we’ve been out of this phase for a while, but Jeff and I were just in Denver and we were having dinner with some friends, shout out to Chris and Hannah, they’re an amazing family, and we had an absolutely incredible time at their house. They have three little kids, but it’s clear, I didn’t even talk to Chris about this, I just noticed this while we’re having dinner, is that every time one of their kids wanted to interrupt them, they would walk over and just put their hand on Chris or Hannah’s arm and wait. As soon as they finish their sentence, then they would look at them and say, “Hey, yeah, what can I do for you?”

That is such a huge game changer and we spent a lot of time training our kids to do that as well. And the reason… it may seem really simple and almost trivial, but man, if one of the things that you want to do is have your children with you a lot while you’re having deep conversations, because you believe like we do that making disciples is the mission. And you want to do that through the family and with your family, then you’ve got to find some tool for how to have your kids present, how to have your kids even interact, but in a way that… because they don’t know when someone’s super deep conversation is happening. They don’t know, “Oh, my gosh, daddy or mommy, they about to make their point. They’ve really spent time thinking about it and now at the pinnacle moment, bam, can I go to the bathroom? Can I… whatever.” I think this is really important, but how have you guys worked on this one?

Jeff:
Yeah, like I was telling you right before recording this, this one is huge, but I would actually put this one at a 10 out of 10 on the difficulty scale. It’s like a triple back flip, 180 or whatever. Not super difficult, but I feel like it takes a while to really get that rhythm into a child’s brain-

Jeremy:
Yes.

Jeff:
… and to really get that into a child’s heart. There’s a lot of grace there, but I would say it’s totally worth… we’re still not even fully there. I’d say we probably 80% of the way there, but it’s worth it and it’s worth it because like you said, if you’re going to be a family on mission and for us specifically, we open our home a lot and we’re out a lot and we really care about hospitality and sitting at other people’s tables a lot, but we don’t just care for that to be like superfluous. We actually want to really engage deeply in people’s lives.

Usually our table conversations are all the way from hard conversations of marriages to a hard part in their life right now. So, that stuff you need a little bit of space for, but yet with our kids’ age, we kind of have to try to train them to make sure that they’re okay with that. We’ve done it a couple of different ways.

The hand on the arm is huge, I would say only our oldest is there. It’s always really fun to be in a season when you have like a kid that’s at the age where you’re like, “Oh, we still probably got a year or two of this, this will be fun”. I would say we’re probably at that right now at some level, but it’s really so helpful and so beneficial, like you said, and then it’s just respectful. It’s kind, I feel like it teaches them 10 other things implicitly right with that. Then they learn conversation and all those different things and then it really protects the hospitality and the table and the ministry hopefully that you’re doing when you’re with adults and in conversations.

The other only one that we’ve done, that’s been really helpful is we have a higher bar for… we love having our kids. They still have to stay at the table for a while and we’ll tell stories and all that, but we’ll usually kind of excuse them towards the end so that we can have those conversations. That’s another way we do that. Normally with our family dinners, where no one else is around, we all kind of break at the same time. Does that make sense? But when we have people over, we let the kids kind of go a little early, as long as they’re still staying and I feel like they’re still absorbing what I want them to absorb and it’s still a good meal and stuff, and we let them go a little early but they also know that if they need something, come and get us and put their hand on us. We have a very high standard when we do that, when we have people over and your excuse thing to, “I don’t want to hear one fight. Don’t bother me. You guys need to handle that.”

We’ve put that kind of responsibility on our oldest where we say, “Hey, Kinz, I need you to be responsible for your brother and I need to trust that you can take care of it. I need to trust that you can kind of facilitate some type of sharing or some type of argument. I’ve given you that authority for these moments so that we can have this conversation.”

It’s kind of another cousin version of that. In general, we still do that, even when other people aren’t there, but we just kind of heighten it when people are over. Then I think the kids just know, “Okay, if we excuse you to go play, then that really means not don’t bother us”, but you know what I mean? Just, “Hey, you guys really got to take care of it. We’re not going to mediate. We’re not going to be the ref and if you can’t do that, then we will have some discipline or some training after to make sure we can get there. Can you guys solve it on your own when we’re talking?”

I would say those two are deeply helpful, but for the exact same reason, like you said, so that you can then stay in deeper conversations for not only ministry and purpose, but then also adults know, just so that you don’t feel like you’re having toddler conversations all the time. There’s a level of, “Oh yes, I’m actually having an adult conversation,” and then you high five each other. You’re not changing a diaper and it’s amazing. That’s what I would say… and yeah, the Knopings, they are the best and that dinner was phenomenal. So, if you guys are listening, shout out to you guys. We love you guys, you guys are the best and hope that was a good tip for you guys for those listening.

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