As parents, many of us have a genuine desire to raise up our children correctly. We love our kids and we want to do what is absolutely best for them. However, if we take an honest look at our parenting, I think we may be surprised by how much of our time is spent simply on the tasks of parenting, rather than seeking to understand those whom we are trying to parent well. We must not forget the importance of simply listening to our children.
I believe listening is a foundational part of parenting, and that without it we cannot serve our children well. Parents, if we are not intentional in how we raise our children, we can easily be pulled into simply completing the various tasks of parenting and miss the unique relationship we can have with each of our children. It would be a shame to miss the beautiful opportunity of hearing what our children are trying to say to us.
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2 NIV)
Just as our heavenly Father listens to the prayers of His children, so should we give a listening ear to our children. This may require a paradigm shift in our thinking, and instead of focusing on the various tasks like Martha, we must choose to embrace the relational aspect of parenting. Much like Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and just listened, I believe we as parents need to set aside time to simply listen to our children. We must not only take the time to listen to their words, but we must also be attentive to their emotions and their actions.
When I read the gospels, I’m often struck by how many times Jesus’ teaching and instruction is in direct response to a question posed to Him. Or when He healed others it was His attentiveness to the needs of the people that led Him to act. We all know that instruction is an important part of parenting, but have we ever considered the importance of listening?
The Gift of Listening
One of the best gifts we can give our children is to simply listen to them. If we are aware of where our children are really at, we will be able to fulfill our task of parenting with much more wisdom and discernment. When we take the time to listen, we can better facilitate the actions required of parenting.
“He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (Proverbs 18:13)
Parents, do you know your children? Each one is so very different. I would encourage you to pay special attention to how much you instruct this week versus how much you simply listen to your children. Do you find yourself making judgement calls before hearing both sides of a sibling squabble? Do you find it easier to simply correct a behavior than to take the time to listen and get to the heart of the matter? Parents, it is so vitally important to hear our children and value them as real people.
The impact we have on our children will in many ways correlate to how well we listen to them. We cannot train well if we don’t listen well. So, let us resolve to listen well!