Parenting Pathway #128: Watch Your Tone

In my last Pathway, Click, I focused on how parents can partner with their children in setting life goals. This includes teaching children on a regular basis that life is full of possibilities. And talking with our children about how they are ALWAYS at choice when it comes to what they do with their life and how they get there. 

The life goal questions in the last Parenting Pathway included asking children about their dreams and what they want their life to be like as they grow up, etc. Thanks to a LifeTrek reader, this week’s Pathway will discuss just how important our communication style is during these goal setting conversations. 

Life goal questions can be tough questions for a child as well as for an adult. The magic to these conversations is in making this type of conversation part of the on-going relationship we have with our children as they grow up. The magic is also in the way the questions are delivered and in the chemistry of the conversation. This includes a parent’s tone of voice, facial expressions, the parent’s openness, acceptance, flexibility, and ability to “dream” right along with the child. 

Asking a child a life goal question in a way that pressures a child to answer can be devastating to the child and leave the parent waiting for an answer. Even simple questions like, “What do you want your family or work life to be like when you grow up?”, if delivered in a way or with a tone that does not allow the child the time and space to dream and imagine all that is possible for him or her, can be counterproductive to the relationship and also to the child’s vision for the future. 

The key to this magic is to be curious as a parent. Set all judgment, life experience, history, and expectations aside. Immerse yourself in your child’s every word so that you can ask genuinely curious questions to deepen the child’s thoughts and feelings for his or her future.

Talk with your children in a curious, open, lighthearted, “anything goes way” about life goals in the areas of health and wellness, personal development, money, physical development, academics, family, friends, love, recreation, community, spirituality, and career, etc. Remember to allow them the time and space they need to explore and ponder. Also, don’t be surprised if their answers to the same life-goal questions change overtime or even overnight. 

For months, my three year old talked of being a Dentist in her adult life. Now she dreams of being a Barbie doll when she grows up. I’m not sure I understand that one, and I’m fighting the urge to say, “Well you can’t be a Barbie doll, that is not possible.” I have managed to stay curious and put my ideas about that dream aside. 

Remember to be open, supportive, motivating, encouraging, and reward your child’s forward movement. I invite you to continue to enjoy the conversations of life goals with your children this week.

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Parenting Coaching Programs and to arrange for a complementary Parenting coaching session, Click Here or Email Christina.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.


Christina Lombardo, PCC, CPCC (
LifeTrek Coaching International
Columbus, OH


Telephone: 614-332-9747
Fax: 415-634-2301


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