“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.”
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?