Our family loves games! We play card games, board games, outdoor games, sports, and imagination games. Sometimes we have conversations about games we play, but most of the time we talk about things of more substance such as family, improving relationships, truths we’ve found, books we’ve read, experiences we’ve had, memories we share, family history, skills, problem solving, religion, politics, goals, questions we have, and dreams.
Once when talking about a game we both enjoyed, I analyzed a conversation with my son. It was fun to get excited about a game, but something was missing in that conversation that usually appeared in our other conversations. Purpose, personal impact, and unity were all missing from the conversation.
People love when their conversations have meaning or purpose for their lives. When we leave a conversation that inspires us to become a better person or gives us an insight to ourselves or others that we didn’t previously have, those conversations are memorable. Purposeful conversations feed our souls and give us hope for good things to come.
When a person discusses their faith, goals, memories, or problems, the conversation is personal. Each person in the discussion reaches out in caring to the other person. They automatically value the other person because the other person is valuing them enough to share such personal information and thoughts.
Confiding our hopes, dreams, and personal thoughts or purposes with another person creates unity. When people mutually value each other’s life experiences and goals, then there isn’t judgment in the relationship. Deeper conversations establish trust, which brings about more unity.
Humans need conversations that lift them up and matter to their futures in order to feel connected, understood, and like they’re moving in a good direction. Substantive, deeper discussions are healthy and sought after by all people, unless the person is deliberately hiding their real identity from others. So, what about those trivial conversations about games, TV shows, Hollywood stars, etc.? Do they help us at all? Are they healthy?
Why We Talk About Nothing Sometimes
Just because having conversations about games or interests isn’t as personal, doesn’t mean the conversations aren’t useful. In fact, those conversations about games do accomplish something.
Everyone likes to occasionally have down time to read novels, play games, listen to music, and watch movies. And, just like all the deeper stuff, it’s fun to talk to someone about what entertains them. These conversations can seem less important but engaging in them shows that you care about what the other person is thinking and experiencing.
I’ve known parents who dismiss conversations with their child when the child starts talking about a pretend game they made up or a Hollywood star that they think is good looking, etc. Not surprisingly, the child soon turns to other sources to talk about what excites them, and what they’ve experienced in their down time.
Wise parents look their child in the eyes when the child is talking about their interests and ask questions about the topic to gain further insight. Wise parents take time to talk to children and bond with them, even if the topic of the child’s conversation isn’t engaging for the parent.
Yes, talking about nothing has a place and can even be healthy. It may test our patience some days when we really crave productivity or purposeful, deep conversations. But, the light, seemingly meaningless conversations give family members an opportunity to invest in each other and show caring by listening and smiling. It’s helpful for family bonding and to nurture enough trust to talk about deeper things in the future.
So, even if you don’t like their music, game, or the show they want to talk to you about, be interested. You don’t have to like it or agree with it to be interested in their thoughts. When they see and feel you are sincere and non-judgmental when they’re talking to you, then they’ll accept your opinions with a more open mind.
Conversations can’t remain trivial forever or the unity and bonding desired won’t happen. But, talking about the things of lesser importance can open hearts and minds to learn from each other. This is why successful business people around the world learn about the lives and activities of the people they’re working with, and why people at the office play golf and go on trips. These activities may lack some depth when viewed individually, but they pave the way for good bonds, trust, and solid relationships.
Years ago, a series of ads produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints repeatedly said, “Family. Isn’t it about time?” As repetitive as those ads were, the message was spot on. Family takes time. It takes playing long games you might not be as into as the other person playing. Family takes investment. There are so many things we could be doing with our time, but we have to prioritize to find happiness.
When people write their priorities, they usually put family as a higher priority over business or projects. Yet, when it comes time to actually spend the time, can we do it? Can we have talks about seemingly silly things sometimes just to show we care and love the person? I hope so. Family unity and those deeper conversations often need the silly conversations to lay the foundation of family bonding that brings us all so much joy!
To improve your family bonding and unity, order the second edition of Nicholeen’s book, “Parenting A House United,” which is now available for pre-sale.