Every relationship is co-created. Meaning, that it must have give and take in communication. If I said, “I have a great relationship with the wall in my office,” you might look at me like I am dumb — and I would be! That’s not a relationship.
Relationships require two parties engaged together. One of the greatest things you could do for you kid is listen to them.
Why Is Listening Powerful?
- When you listen to them, you are communicating that they are worthy of your focus and attention.
- When you hear their feelings and stress you give them a voice. They have something to say and it matters to you.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
Jesus himself knew the power of listening. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was traveling when a woman, who had been bleeding for twelve years, touched Jesus’s clothes and he stopped everything.
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:32-34)
She told him the whole truth, and He listened to her. He stopped what he was doing to listen. In the middle of the huge crowd of people, Jesus made eye contact, focused his attention and listened to her.
There are times where the Holy Spirit is nudging you to STOP and listen to your kids.
Tips On Being A Good Listener
Like any skill, in order to get better at something you must practice. These are simple techniques that require practice but will give you some good strategy, as you become better listeners.
1. Practice active listening.
Active listening is a strategic form of communication that lets your kids know that you are “with them.” There are some really great resources on active listening. A simple Google search with give you some really great content.
2. Put yourself in your kid’s shoes.
This is simply asking yourself, “How would I have reacted in a given situation when I was their age?” If you have teenagers, a good exercise is to go find an old high school picture of yourself and ask how you would have handled situations or things when you were their age.
3. Be present, physically and mentally.
Dishes can wait, put your phone down and give them ALL of you in the moment. Eye contact is key.
Pro Tip: If you are in the middle of something that needs to get done, schedule a time with your kids for a later time to have a conversation. For example, When I finish paying the bills, I will come find you right away so I can give you all of my attention. Is that ok? Asking “Is that ok” is important because it may be an intentional interruption where you need to stop what you are doing so they can be heard!
4. Take note of YOUR body language.
It is important when you are listening to pay attention of your posture towards your kids. If your arms are closed it may be communicating that you are closed off to them. If you have your head cocked sideways and your lip curled this may communicate that you don’t fully believe what they are saying. (Try and mirror the body language of your kids as they talk. If they lean in, you lean in!)
5. Show curiosity.
Maybe you could care less about video games or whatever popular thing is out these days. But showing curiosity in what your kids are interested in is a great way to build trust and have conversations that may otherwise not happen.
When you are talking, actively pursue more information from your kids — this lets them know that what they are saying is important, and that their opinions matter. Sometimes you may have to fake a bit of interest — let’s be honest! — but being curious can lead to some of the most meaningful conversations.
What are the best times for conversations with your kids? (Meals, car rides or bed time?)
What are some struggles when it comes to listening to your kids?
When is the last time your had a intentional interruption?
Every kid is different. In what areas do you need to improve for each child?
One a scale of 1-10 (1 being bad and 10 being great), how is your communication with your spouse? Why? (This may effect your communication with your kids)