The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Larry King once said, “The person who asks the questions controls the conversation.” I was over forty years old before I learned this very important secret. Conversation does not come easily to me; it never has. But when I heard this secret, I began to listen better so that I could ask a connecting question.

Once I went on a one day journey for the church, and it required spending the day with someone I was not comfortable being with. I prayed for help and for the right questions. I asked two questions that took the whole day for my friend to answer. At the end of the day we found that we enjoyed one another’s company.

Ask questions; then ask the right questions, the probing questions.

My next challenge was to bring this home to my own relationship with my kids. Paul David Tripp (The Age of Opportunity ) helped me do this by teaching four or five key questions to ask our kids. These questions help us to evaluate a situation and to train our kids to think through things with a godly mindset.

Here is my revised list of four questions with brief comments:

1) What happened?

Getting the facts is a key. It may require listening to more than one person; it may be that you can only get one side. Nevertheless, as much as possible, try to get your child to explain what happened. That is safe territory for him and usually this question gets him going.

2) How did you feel?

Younger children might need your help to identify how they felt, but this step is important. When you seek to understand a person, acknowledging their emotions validates them as a person. I didn’t get this for a long time. I remember telling my kids, “It doesn’t matter how you feel; just do the right thing.” But I was wrong; it did matter how they felt because they were people and not machines.

3) What did you do?

“Nothin’.” “I said a bad word.” “I hit him in the mouth.” “I told all of my friends not to talk to her anymore.” Whatever the response was, we must give our kids an opportunity to express it. Saying it may help them see whether or not they responded rightly. Saying it can serve as a confession. Admitting their response opens a door for the Holy Spirit to begin to work in our child’s heart.

4) How does God see it?

This is a training question. Taking the opportunity to discuss together a godly response to a tough situation is a parent’s duty—“bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” When you have listened to your child, he is much more likely to be receptive to you, opening the way for you to introduce him to a Biblical truth.

After these four questions, there may be a need for follow-up with some other tools from your parenting toolbox.

I urge you to try out these questions this week. Look for a time when your child is upset, or when they need advice. Listen first, using these four questions:

What happened?

How did you feel?

What did you do?

How does God see it?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Communication: Listen

When I was in college I went to see the pastor of the college church. He was busy; that was obvious. When I walked in, he took his work, folded it up and pushed it aside. With a clear desk, he gave me his full attention. I’ll never forget that. Without saying a word, he communicated to me that I mattered.

Do we do that for our kids? When our kids come to us, what does our mental desk look like? Is it totally full? Can we clear it and listen? What we do to the least of these, we do to Jesus. Do you think that includes our kids?

Value is communicated by listening!

Listening takes time. As you spend time, you will get to know your child.

One of our friends Patti has been intentional about knowing her children. This year her older daughter Rachel, a high school junior, had to complete a personal inventory concerning how she would respond in a group setting. Patti sat with Rachel while she completed the inventory. As Rachel was writing in answers, Patti realized that she knew all the answers before Rachel wrote anything down! For Patti, it was one of those moments when she realized, “All my time and effort to intentionally know my children has been worth it. I know Rachel. I am more than a chauffeur, a cook, a fashion consultant…I know who she is, and what she is about.”

As I read Paul David Tripp’s book The Age of Opportunity, the following two scriptures ate at me. I had to admit that I was not listening. I was all talk and no listen. I was in the company of fools.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding

but delights in airing his own opinions.

Proverbs 18:13 He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shame.

I had no clue what was going on in my kids. Patricia did, but I didn’t. Could I push aside concerns, anxieties, time crunches…and take time? I discovered that the wisest thing I could say might be nothing. If I would just listen, they would be encouraged. If I would take time, they would be valued. If I would hear them, they would hear me. . . later.

What we say matters! How we listen matters!

Tips we’ve netted: 1) Take the necessary time to listen to your kids. 2) Play games together. The interaction is fun and the conversation more natural. (Dads, you don’t have to win;) 3) Invite their input on a project or plan. Mark and Allison Richardson gave their oldest daughter a budget and let her plan their vacation. It took more than one try but she got it, and she learned. She learned that her parents believed in her.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Deut. 6: 20 gives an interesting instruction to the parents of Israel:

In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?" tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”

In other words, Moses instructed the fathers and mothers that your children will ask you questions about your celebrations and ceremonies. When they do, use those questions as opportunities to tell them how God delivered you from Egypt. Remember your history as a people and pass it on to your children. If Moses were standing here with us, he would say the same thing, but the story would be different. Most of us are not Jewish, but we do have a story of God’s intervention and grace in our lives.

My story might sound more like this: As I grew up in middle Tennessee, in the rolling hills of Maury County, the dimple of the universe, God began to speak to me and call me to follow him. . .

You get the idea. Take the highlights of your own story and make a note of them. Ponder them so that they are fresh to you. You will discover that God brings opportunities for you to pass them on. Just last week, I started making a list of stories; I wrote down five. Then I took my list to Patricia and asked her to think of some. She said she just could not think of that “right now” but then she came up with twenty-five more.

Your storehouse of memories is full; take stock, do an inventory of stories of your life. Make a list; five is better than zero.

Your children need your stories more than they need the make-believe stories of today’s celebrities. They need real stories of tough decisions, successes and failures, joys and sorrows, challenges and fun.

Your life, your story, your feelings, your thoughts. How God led you, even when you weren’t aware of it. What God has taught you. What he is showing you now.

When you share about yourself, your vulnerability opens a door between them and you. It also makes a way between them and God. Your openness helps them to be open. Lead the way with stories, your stories.



Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Shorty Currie was a great storyteller. He told stories of growing up in southern Tennessee during the depression and his memories were rich. He told of the war, of work, of hunting, of sadness, of laughter. We laughed until our sides ached and until the tears rolled down our faces. And the one who laughed the hardest of all was Shorty Currie. Shorty was my dad.

One important way to communicate with children is through stories. Values and life lessons have always been passed on through stories. Mom tells about her favorite doll, dad shares a practical joke. Uncle Steve remembers the winter we all went sledding, he lost control, and everyone ended up in the creek.

Stories capture the emotions and connect us with our past. Our kids need this today. David Walsh says, that the ones who tell the stories shape the culture. Unfortunately, we let Hollywood tell the stories far too often. Your kids are interested in your stories simply because they are yours and in a very real sense theirs, too.

Stories have a power to help kids make right choices. In stories, they see others make mistakes and they learn. Whenever we would use a knife, my dad would tell this army story.

When they landed in the Phillipines during WW II, one of his buddies decided to open a coconut with a bayonet blade. He called to Shorty, “Hey, Currie, you silly old fool, do you want a piece of coconut?” My dad laughed, refused, and passed the tent. The same guy then yelled, “Currie, get the medico!” He had placed the coconut between his legs and tried to cut it open, the blade slipped, severing the artery in his leg. In less than a minute, he was gone.

Do you think this caused me to be careful with a knife? You bet it did.

Our best movie screen is our God-given imagination. We have a great opportunity to help our children develop this gift. Just try. Begin. Choose some stories to tell. Make yourself a note or two so that you do not forget. I think you will be surprised at the results.

When our children were small, Patricia made up stories about a little monkey named “Pickety-Pockety.” She used this imaginary character to teach the consequences of bad choices. She didn’t have to preach because she captured them with a story. Then when we read the Bible, the kids would often make the connection.

Stories help us pass on values and principles “under the table” so to speak. It’s not didactic. It flows. It’s interesting. It’s worth the effort. Telling stories is one way to enable your children to think ahead. You are equipping them for life with stories.