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I’ve often talked about how my son’s nightly bedtime routine has become a wonderful time for us to really listen and share our thoughts with one another. It’s a wonderful time where we can be really present with each other; where there are no other distractions. A time where we share ideas that, during the hustle and bustle of the day, might be less well-received.

The other night when I was tucking my son in to bed, he asked me an interesting question. He said “How did the first people get here?” He knew that babies come from a mom and a dad; he just wanted to know how the first mom and dad got here. As I pondered how to respond, I realized that this answer could sound very different depending upon the beliefs you had been raised with or had since adopted about how everything started and where life essentially comes from. In our house, we talk about God, but also about the universe, energy and our own inner wisdom. I’m not here to change or question anyone’s beliefs, but I did find myself wondering how other parents would respond to this question.

In the end, this question allowed me the opportunity to stress the power of God, the universe, etc., and that each and every one of us has within us the power of creation. Just like the repeated messages we use of “look both ways before crossing the street”, I like to repeat the message to my son that we have the power to co-create our lives and that our thoughts direct our circumstances. It is only through hearing something over and over that it can finally sink in. Ian’s question allowed me the perfect opportunity to repeat this message in way that didn’t make him feel like I was lecturing him.

I left my son’s room that night feeling really happy that he has started questioning one of the great mysteries of life. These are the questions I used to ask my parents that really set me on my quest to understand the power and nature of our universe.

I’m sure its no surprise that we learn best when we are self-directed and motivated to find the answer, and Ian seems to ponder these deep questions when he is in a relaxed state in his bed. I’m pretty sure this question wouldn’t have come up on the way to soccer practice or during our evening meal.

No matter how busy we are and how hard we may find it to offer our children our presence, it is so very important to find that one perfect time, even a chunk of 10 minutes a day, where we can really just relax and be with our children and listen to their thoughts. My son has become accustomed to our nightly time together. A time where I’m not rushing him to baseball practice or school, or badgering him to finish his homework or make his bed. He knows that he has my full attention, and it has been in these times where he has shared some of his deepest thoughts, concerns, and wisdom.

Although between his schedule and my schedule we don’t spend a lot of time together on a daily basis, our evening bedtime routine is a cherished time in our house where I feel that we both get “real”. It is in these times of being “real” and present with our children that they gain a true sense of their well-being, and can begin to view us as trusted confidants, rather than just schedule managers and rule enforcers. I know that if anything is really bothering my son from his day, it’s going to come out at bedtime. And when it does, it not only strengthens his trust in our ability to communicate with one another, but it also allows him to leave the days’ concerns behind and have a peaceful, restorative night of sleep.

I challenge you to find that 10 minute chunk of time in your day when you can get “real” with your children. When you do so, you’ll reap the benefits that your presence can have on your ability to communicate with your children.