There’s not a parent in the world who doesn’t want to know that his child is okay. No matter how old they are or how busy our lives get, we always want to be in the loop. We ask the requisite questions: How was class? What do you have for homework? Did you turn in that assignment? The questions are aplenty, but are we as parents asking the wrong questions?

With so many activities taking up much of our time, it can be difficult to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with your children. The nonstop motion helps to create a disconnect with those we love the most. Sports, school plays, piano lessons, karate lessons, you name it, there’s never enough time to just talk.

You might have a rudimentary understanding of what’s going on in your child’rens lives, but do you really know how they’re doing, what they’re feeling, what they’re learning? For most of us, unfortunately, the answer may be a resounding no. So, how do we change the dynamics and ensure that you and your children have meaningful, memorable conversations, even when the days are busy and the nights are busier?

You begin by asking open-ended questions that invite them to tell you more about subjects that matter to them. For instance, you can ask what they talked about in the lunchroom? What was the best part of their day and why? What did they play during recess? Or any variety of question that goes beyond the norm.

The answers to those questions will give you so much insight into their lives. You’ll learn who their friends are, what’s on their minds, whether they’re making friends, if they’re part of a good crowd and more. You’ll also learn some things about yourself by asking the right questions. You’ll get an idea of how well you’re doing as a parent. You’ll learn whether or not your children have taken your lessons to heart. The answers to those questions are a good way to track how well you’re doing and to see how well your children are adjusting to a new grade level, a new teacher, a new school or new friends.

We all wish we could see our kids in action, but for most of us that’s simply not feasible. The next best thing is taking the time to think of questions that matter and asking them of your children. You’d be surprised how much your children are willing to share with you when new and interesting questions are posed. Who knows? You might find that your children will actively seek you out to talk one day. Stranger things have happened. Your children will, occasionally, if not more often, want to tell you about their days. You’ll feel a part of the process and you’ll build a healthy bridge of communication with your children that will follow you throughout your lifetime. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially as the children age and the topics become more serious. Be thankful you’ve got the ball rolling now.

By Sarah Wester