The golden hour of conversation with kids often happens right before bed. I know what you’re thinking: after a lengthy bedtime routine, endless books, just one more drink of water, you just want to close the door and have an hour or two of peace and quiet in the evenings. But Kelly Clarkson uses that time to ask her kids two simple questions, and it leads to some heartfelt discussions with her 8-year-old daughter River and her 6-year-old son Remington.
In an interview on The Angie Martinez IRL Podcast on Monday, Clarkson revealed the nighttime routine that involves two basic questions. “I literally ask my kids every night when we’re snuggling, ‘Are you happy? And if you’re not, what could make you happier?’” she said on the podcast, per E! News.
It seems so simple, yet so profound. Are you happy? What could make you happier? I want to ask myself these questions every night, too! It’s such an important way to check in and feel present in your life and the life of your kids, even if they don’t always answer in a way you want to hear.
“Sometimes they’ll say, especially the past two years, and it kills me and I want them to be honest, so I don’t ever say, ‘Oh god, don’t tell me that,’” she continues. “But a lot of times it would be like, ‘You know, I’m just really sad. I wish mommy and daddy were in the same house.’”
She added that her kids are “really honest about it.” “I’m raising that kind of individual. I want you to be honest with me,” Clarkson continued.
Clarkson and her kids’ father Brandon Blackstock settled their divorce in March 2022 after nearly two years split up. Since then, they’ve had some ups and downs, with Blackstock reportedly “always asking for more” from her. Now, The Kelly Clarkson Show host is doing her best to co-parent with him, but it’s still hard.
“I just sit there and I’m like, ‘I get it. I’m from a divorced family as well. I get it. That sucks. But we’re going to work it out. And you are so loved by both of us,’” Kelly explained on the podcast, per E!. “I think communicating with them and not treating them — not treating them like an adult, because they’re not — but not treating them like a child. They’re not small feelings. Those are huge feelings, and those are huge emotions.”
It turns out, there’s a psychological reason why kids may be more likely to open up to their parents at bedtime.
Carolyn Rubenstein, PhD, licensed psychologist in Boca Raton, Florida, tells SheKnows,“Children may need time to process the day’s events and reflect on their experiences. The evening and bedtime provide a natural opportunity for this kind of reflection, which can lead to more open and honest conversations.”
That’s one reason why a bedtime routine is so important.
“For many families, bedtime is a time for routines such as reading stories, singing lullabies, or having quiet conversations,” Dr. Rubenstein continued, adding that routines like this “can create a calm and predictable atmosphere that may encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings.” Sounds great, right? But be careful about broaching topics before bed that are too heavy.
Dr. Rubenstein warns that asking if your kids are “OK” or feel “happy” might not be best to do in the evenings. “It’s important to check on your child’s well-being and to ask them questions such as ‘are you okay?’, ‘do you feel happy?’ or ‘is there anything I can do for you?’” she tells us, but “bedtime is the wrong time to broach such an important topic.”
“The goal is for your child to be calm and relaxed before bed, so asking them these questions right before bed is not the right time to do so,” explains Dr. Rubenstein. “You don’t want to simply illicit a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from your child. Particularly if the answer is ‘no,’ that entails a much deeper conversation that could be triggering and difficult for your child.”
If you are going to ask those deeper questions at night, she recommends doing it on a weekend or holiday night, when they don’t have to wake up early the next day or have to leave for school. “If your child wakes up distressed in the morning because of what he/she has shared, it is best if you are able to spend the time together,” she says.
Still, taking a few extra moments to really talk to your kids — about nothing in particular or whatever is on their mind — is so important. It doesn’t matter if you have toddlers or teenagers or any age in between — talking to your kids about their day can be so powerful.
Curious about bedtime routines celebrities follow for their kids? Read all about them here.
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