I thought about writing on how to talk to your children. In fact that part is already written, but I want to write, to you first, on the listening part, because we ought to do more of that!
Don’t just talk. Listen to what your children have to say (especially once they hit double digits). Let them know that you are interested in what they have to say, and in their opinions. Don’t divide your attention between your child and a cell phone, or a football game. Show them they are more important to you than those things. What they have to say may not seem very important to you, but in their world, with their limited view, it has a lot more significance than you realize.
Kids in general will gravitate to the oldest person they know that will take them seriously. Do you take your child(ren) seriously? Or do you brush their problems under the rug, because compared to yours they are a walk in the park? When you take your child seriously, you build their confidence that what they have to say is worth hearing (even if the specifics of what they have to say today aren’t). You can validate your child(ren) that their opinions and their point of view are worth being heard simply by listening …and keep in mind, in their early years they don’t have to be right, …or even make sense!
You can discover a tremendous amount about your child(ren) simply by engaging their brains. It’s amazing how much you can learn by listening, and asking them why they think what they just told you is true. There are times when they will talk themselves out of their previous point of view, and there are times when they will amaze you with the insight that their innocent observations have brought to your life! For them to be wrong is the not the same earth shattering event that it is for you to be wrong, Dad. It’s really not that for you either, but I know that years of pride have built up in many of us and we want to save our children from “being wrong” – don’t worry they’ll be just fine (and so will you).
“WE ARE MEN OF ACTION…”
So, Dad… I want to challenge you! Listen to you child(ren) today. Get on their level – crouch down, or get on your knees – and look at them in the face, eye to eye… and listen. Actively focus on what they are saying, filtering out the non-important details and incorrect grammar and seek to hear what they are trying to say… then say it back to them. “So, you are telling me…”
You can do it! Listen to your kids today!