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Say What? The Battle Against One-Word Answers

By Clare Olge, an MHS houseparent

Have you ever asked a teenage boy about his day?    Regardless of how you phrase the question, it’s typical to get a one-word answer—or even just a grunt in some cases. It’s easy to get disheartened when our students are at school the majority of the day and all we get is “fine” as an answer when they get home.

Rather than be totally deflated, we have decided to wage a battle against one-word answers and apathy.

When our students come home, we require that they have a meaningful conversation. One that consists of more than “good,” “fine,” or “okay.” They must take the time to answer thoughtfully and follow up with a question for us. This is a huge step for many of them, and it even helps me when I’m tempted to simply say my day was “good.”

Because isn’t there so much more to say about a day? We live in one of the most beautiful places. The campus blooms before our eyes, and the boys are growing up and learning new things all the time. They’re getting a top-notch education, building friendships, and taking interesting classes.

I don’t think it’s fair to sum up something of this nature with a one-word answer. Plus, we’re teaching them to engage in conversation, look up from their electronic devices, and converse with people who care about them.

Technology begs for their attention all the time, but we’re committed to teaching them how to have meaningful conversations every day.

And the more we do it, the easier it gets. Each day’s questions are based off yesterday’s answers, so the conversations come more naturally. This is a lifelong skill we feel is worth the time and effort to embrace!

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