Why It’s So Important to Listen to Your Children

BY: - 29 Jan '13 | Parenting

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“Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

~Catherine Wallace

I saw this quote on Pinterest a few days ago and later on Facebook. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about this. I’m a busy mom of three and countless times I find myself saying, “Not now!” “I don’t have time!”, etc. I don’t mean to put them off — I swear I don’t. As a parent, I am always thinking ten steps ahead of the present time. It’s a shame, but this is my train of thought, especially during a busy weeknight. I’m thinking, “Son/daughter, please go get in the shower, so that you can have a good night’s sleep…so that you can be alert in class….so that you will have a better chance at doing well in school….so that you can get in the best schools…to have a successful career…and then later be able to live the American Dream. This seems so much more important at the time than listening to you talk about someone laughing so hard that milk came out of there nose in the cafeteria!!”

Nowadays, our kids have the world at their fingertips. From the internet to smartphones, all it takes is the click of a mouse and they can be exposed to only God knows what. It takes more than just parental controls. It takes true parental involvement. We have to do more listening and a lot less talking.  If we don’t listen to them, we won’t know what they’re thinking. If we don’t know what they’re thinking, we won’t know what they are capable of. If we don’t know what they’re capable of, then who are we raising? Or better yet, who is raising our children? Facebook? Twitter? Their peers? It’s a scary thought. Wouldn’t you agree?

I remember, when I was a little girl, being “put off.” It wasn’t good. Wasn’t good at all, and the fact that I remember it probably means that I was hurt by it. Maybe…just maybe the fact that I am mentioning it now, means that I still am. Some people might say, “Hey, that’s life! Get over it!” Yeah, but life as a child is short and rough as it is. It’s our jobs as parents to make it easier. We have to make sure that our children feel loved, secure, protected AND IMPORTANT. So, here’s the deal. I will make this promise to my little people (and I hope that you will do the same thing):

I promise to listen to you talk about things like, “Mommy! Amelia uses potty words like butt and stupid.” I will be attentive and not roll my eyes behind your back as you talk endlessly about your video games. I will even stop what I’m doing most times and give you eye contact. After all, that is exactly what I ask of you, isn’t it?

I hope, now that you’ve read this, that we all can be a little more attentive until it becomes a habit. Lord knows, we, as parents don’t want the pain of hearing, “But you never listened to me.” That would hurt and I don’t think they make Band-aids that big.

BMWK — Do you take the time to really listen to what your children are saying? How do you show them that their voice matters and is heard?

About the author

Sheree Adams wrote 117 articles on this blog.

Sheree is a wife and WAHM of three who passionately blogs about marriage, family, health tips and more as Smart & Sassy Mom. Sheree is committed to helping blended families and keeping marriages strong, healthy, fun and SPICY!

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  • Anzala

    I soooo relate to this…always ten steps ahead and busy but sometimes missing that special moment where my child is sharing information that is really important to them, even if random to me. Thanks for the reminder to stop & make time to be totally engaged in their world. It’s a great invitation that I don’t want to take for granted!

  • Loretta

    GUILTY!!!
    Thank you for sharing this. As I was reading I saw myself w/my two sons (6 &16) &thr rolling of my eyes thinking, “I don’t care & I have things to do” while they aren’t looking, GUILTY! I often feel like I don’t have enough time to stop anything completely & devote more than 3mins of listening at a time… However, I need my sons to feel as important as I know they are to me & so I will make adjustments to do better… Your so right when you speak of childhood being short lived! I love this page, I share it OFTEN & read it everyday! I’m actually reading & responding frommy phone on lunch;) I appreciate new thoughts being introduced & or provoked… THANK YOU ;~)

  • Laquita

    Thanks for posting this. Sometimes I do that to my kids and tell them to be quiet and go to their rooms or telling my oldest daughter that I don’t care about what she’s talking about because its nothing but drama. I’m going to stop that and sit and pay attention to what they are telling me. It’s obviously important to them if they feel the need to talk about it with me. So I will make it a priority from here on out to stop and really listen!

  • Janet Dubac

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful reminder!
    As a parent myself, I know it can be difficult to juggle all the responsibilities of parenthood. But indeed, we should not neglect the simple parenting duty of listening to our kids.

  • Christi

    My son is a BIG talker, but I will remember to be attentive and patient because after all, these are the best days of my life, right?

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Is Being Your Child’s Parent the Best Thing You’ve Ever Done?

BY: - 29 Jan '13 | Parenting

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Photo Credit: Rakeem Cunningham

Photo Credit: Family Photo by Rakeem Cunningham

Imagine that being  your daddy was the best thing your father ever did. To hear that would be music to the ears of so many of our nation’s daughters. The little ones and those of us who have grown up to become women, women often still searching for whatever we feel we didn’t get from the first man we ever truly loved or placed upon a pedestal, whether or not he was actually worthy of such. While many of us have grown beyond the stage of finger pointing and the placing of blame, if we look back to revisit our yesterdays it is quite easy to see that our relationship (or lack of) with our father shaped the women we became.

Our feelings of not being worthy or of value in the eyes of our fathers resulted in adult women who struggled to love the face that stared back at them when they looked in the mirror. Our desire to be loved and accepted by the man who we share a genetic makeup with catapulted us to the arms of men who were so undeserving of our hearts despite us often attempting to thrust it into their hands hoping that they would love us back. For so many of us all we wanted was to matter to him, to be loved by him, for him to tell us that we were important and precious. And out of that want we went on a quest to find love.

Eventually, we would come to learn that love wasn’t giving away our body and innocence, love wasn’t spending our money to buy his affection, and love wasn’t standing still and feeling small as you were belittled and mistreated. It is a lesson that some of us are still learning. It is hard not to wonder how different life would have been if as daughters we had a daddy and not just a father. How different would life have been if someone had taught us how a woman should be treated? Had someone helped us to see that we were worthy of love and respect and that we were beautiful beings. What if someone looked into our little eyes, eyes that were brimming with hope and promise, eyes that had not yet seen how painful the world can be and told us we were the best thing they ever did?

I look at the way my husband’s eyes light up when he looks at his girls. And I wonder what that would do for so many of our daughters, to see their daddy’s eyes light up when he looks at them. To hear him say how much he loves being their father.

As referenced on The Root, according to child psychologist, Steve Biddulph, “girls with strong and involved fathers will grow up with higher self-esteem and make smarter choices later in life.” As a woman I know firsthand how true this is. As a mother I know what it means to me to be married to a man who realizes the gift and honor it is to be a child’s daddy. Even so, the reality is that for many children, a father will be nothing more than a memory or a person that we glorified because sometimes it is far too easy to fall in love with the idea of someone.

For some of us our father was the first man to break our heart. For some of us he was the man who taught us to protect it. There are numerous studies and books that will speak to the importance of having a father or father figure in your life but I believe the stories shared by women are the ones that tell it best.

Hi my name is Krishann. My father wasn’t always there and whether or not he could or couldn’t be there, in his eyes, doesn’t matter all that much. What matters is that he wasn’t there the way I needed him to be. We were inseparable and then on the brink of me becoming a teenager we were separate. I spent my teenage years making what I refer to as “a series of poor choices.” But by God’s grace I am here. I am standing, and I am still fighting to love myself and to let my husband love me the way I deserve to be loved. I’m pretty sure my dad thinks I’m awesome. In fact he has told me so but during the time when I most needed to hear that, I didn’t. And at 28 years old I still have to remind myself each and every day that I truly am enough.

While having a father is ideal we know the world we live in does not rotate on account of the things that we believe are ideal. May our children all be so blessed as to have someone who will help them to realize their value and potential. And in the event that there is no one else may we be that person.

BMWK — How did your relationship with your father shape you? Fathers how are you helping your daughters realize how valuable they are?

About the author

Krishann Briscoe wrote 32 articles on this blog.

Krishann Briscoe is a child welfare professional turned freelancer with a background in child and adolescent development and social work. In addition to authoring her personal blog His Mrs. Her Mr., Krishann is a contributor for Disney's Babble, The Conversation and The Conscious Perspective. Krishann resides in Southern California with her husband and their two daughters.

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