Kathy, her brother, Dave, and his wife, Debbie

If you’re like many people, you’ll get together with relatives more often these next seven weeks than during any other time of year. I hope you’ll use these times for strategic conversations. Yes, it’s possible that even young people who are used to texting will talk face-to-face.

My brother and I have four cousins on my mom’s side of the family. Through our young adult years, we got together with our parents, Great Aunts, and Grandparents, for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, in addition to other times during the year. (We were blessed to all live in the same city.)

When we got older and some of us went off to college, holiday gatherings became more important since we were together less often. My Grandmother instituted a very wise policy. That’s what it felt like – a policy no one could violate!

At each holiday meal, the six of us were each given five minutes of uninterrupted time to talk about what had been going on in our lives. Maybe we thought it was silly at first, but we came to really appreciate the time to share. The six of us had gone to school and church together and we didn’t want to lose touch simply because some of us were off at college. Because we also wanted to know about our elderly relatives, we encouraged them to take five minutes to talk about what they were doing, too.

I believe these five-minute sharings contributed to keep our family close. I know many people who don’t know their cousins. I’m glad I’m friends with mine. And, as you know if you’ve followed me for awhile, I’m best friends with my brother and he married one of my best friends! These conversations even helped us stay close and informed.

When children talk about what they are interested in and others respond favorably and with questions, they can discover their passions and realize their strengths are purposeful. It can be harder to get kids to talk today, but we must not give up. When they know we care and are genuinely interested, they may open up. Five minutes of uninterrupted time, which means no one can interrogate them (that’s their word), can help. Let us know if it helps you.