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.