Once your child reaches the pre-teen or teenage stage of development you may not have time to read to your child every night. This is understandable because of the busy lives that we lead. It is important to continue if you can, but if not, here are some tips to help you stay connected:
Read what your child reads. Young adults read many different kinds of books. Some may discuss the basics of high school while others may explore sexuality or be overrun with violence. You should know what they are interested in and the ideas that they are being exposed to.
Set a time. Setting a designated time to read to your young adult can give them something to look forward to and a way to continue to bond with you. If reading to them is a hardship, say if you are in school as well, then it can help to set-up a time to read with your child.
Talk about it. Regardless of how you set up your reading time, make sure that you leave time to discuss your reading. Young people have a great opportunity to learn about themselves as they delve into another reality. This is also your opportunity to learn about your child by simply asking questions such as, “What would you do in that situation?” You can transmit your own values by answering such questions yourself.
I do my best to read my son’s assigned reading for school and his recreational reading. I tried to read his current book, This Boy’s Life, but for some reason he banned me. I will just have to read it after he is done. Instead this month, I read the End Games by T. Michael Martin-a sci-fi zombie story, where the main character has suffered abuse and is fighting to keep his brother safe. It was so good that it moved me to want to talk to my son about God, prayer and faith. This conversation was a good one and he was able to share the feelings and thoughts that the story brought out for him. If I had not read the book, I would not have been able to draw on the richness and excitement that it held in order to get a conversation going with him.
Please note- my family talks a lot. My son is like any boy in that he doesn’t talk much, but he has been programmed by his family so that when he gets going, he’s going. If your child does not want to talk about what (s)he reading, reading what they read anyway is a great way to stay connected. When they are ready to talk, you may be able to draw on what you’ve read so that you can have a great conversation.