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www.mnnews.today/aurora-magazine Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
going once it has star ted. A couple of
• Listen to what your kids are saying. If
you are doing more than about 30 %
of the talking, you may well be talking
• Take what your kids say seriously. You
may have heard the point a dozen
times before, but it might be the first
time they are saying it. So you could
act as if it is the first time you are
• Gently present the opposite point of
view, just to see what it looks like. Let
your children know explicitly you are
doing this and don’t necessarily believe
that point of view.
• Don’t be ready to jump in with the
'correct' answer. Kids are less likely
to join the conversation if they think
you are planning to lecture them. Be
confident that strong ethical principles
and positions - the ver y ones
espoused by Christ and the church
- will come out of the reasoned
reflection of the conversation itself.
They usually do.
And have fun. You only get a couple of
years to have these conversations with your
children around the dinner table before they
become grown-ups. So enjoy it while you can
and know you are doing your bit in creating
the ethical, thoughtful sensitive adults of the
Michael Parker is the
headmaster of Oxley
College in Bowral. He
has recently published
two successful books,
Talk With Your Kids:
Ethics (2012) and Tal k
With Your Kids: Big
The benefits of sitting together for a meal
at dinner time are acknowledged as
fundamental in building positive, loving
relationships with your children. But what
do you talk about in that precious half
hour? Michael Parker offers some advice.
Imagine a scene. You are sitting across
from your children (let’s say aged
somewhere between nine and 16)
at the dinner table. The food tastes
fine. No-one is yelling or stomping
off to their bedroom. A pleasant
family glow radiates. And then a small
conversational lull falls...
With what do you fill it?
Well, you could ask how the day went.
You could do some scheduling around
the nex t few hectic days of cricket,
piano, ballet, soccer etc. You could talk
about what was on TV or YouTube.
Or you could have a values-based
conversation about something that
really matters. You could have a
conversation about lying, stealing,
honesty, trust or any one of a hundred
other topics that are impor tant to
us. Not an excuse for a lecture, but a
genuine conversation in which you find
out what your kids feel and guide them
The children sitting opposite you will
not be yours forever. In the next
couple of years and decades they will
be set ting sail into society. They will
become someone’s par tner, someone’s
co-worker, someone’s boss, someone’s
parent. They will vote. If they are lucky,
they will touch many other people’s lives
for the better. We have a responsibility
as parents to make sure they are the
best people to do this.
Of course we all know this already.
But the point is, in the onward rush
of modern life, it is easy to forget
it all from day to day. So it is worth
that awkward moment, when the
conversational lull falls, to wedge in an
opener about ethics.
So how do you open it up? Well there
are two ways:
• The slightly less awkward way
• The slightly more awkward way.
The slightly less awkward way is to
have already scanned the landscape
for ethical issues that may have already
emerged. Maybe it is something that
has happened at school – a friend
lying, or people cheating on a test, or
someone who hasn’t been invited to
a par ty. Maybe it is about something
on the news – a political scandal, or a
healthcare issue, a humanitarian crisis
occurring somewhere else in the world.
Perhaps it is something that has been
raised in church or in religious education.
Either way, you can raise these at the
table and star t a conver sation.
The slightly more awkward way is to
simply say, "I was wondering..." or "I’ve
been thinking about x and I’d love to get
your opinion." Your kids will probably
see through it, but that’s fine (you didn’t
become a parent to show your kids
how cool you are, af ter all).
Then there is keeping the discussion
St Clare’s High School, Taree won the Diocesan Public Speaking Competition. Sarah
Ward, Bianca Denning, Kylie Neilson, Emily McKendry, Ben DeBerg, Jordan Brown
(front) Ms Carmel Tapley, Emily DeBerg, Mr Paul Greaves, Luke Strong, Georgia Saad,
Grace McCallum, Mrs Jenny McKendry, Mrs Anne Campbell.
Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries Teresa Brierley addresses the assembly at the
Diocesan Interfaith Dialogue.
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