By Alyice Edrich
Life can be bitter-sweet. One moment I am grieving the loss of a loved one and the next minute I am praising God for the loved ones in my life; especially my children-which had me wondering how I could make sure my children knew just how much I loved them and treasured our times together. Get too mushy and your teen will head for the door. Stay standoffish and he'll never get the message. "There has to be a happy medium," I thought to myself. "But what could it be?" Then God smacked me right in the face. The answer was easy. Be a good listener!
It's ironic how God knows just what you need to hear, when you need to hear it. Sitting in Bible study this past Sunday, our class discussed how our parents communicated with us as children and how it impacted our lives. While there was a vast difference in communication styles, it came down to two things: parents who didn't engage in verbal communication left their children feeling less important than their adult counterparts, and parents who did engage in verbal communication left their children feeling important, valued, and worthy of their parent's time.
But what was good communication and how do we, as parents, achieve that role? We start by opening our hearts to the Lord and allow His presence to fill us as we put aside daily distractions and enthusiastically engage in real conversations with our children.
But engaging in conversation means we have to really listen to what the other person has to say. In this case, we have to let down some of our parental walls and give our children a chance to open up.
And we can do this by:
reminding ourselves that our children are not an extension of ourselves;
not minimizing their feelings about a situation;
being slow to respond and really hearing the whole story;.
not interrogating our children; and
not reading too much into what is being said.
Listening takes effort. It also takes energy, flexibility, and time.
Aren't our children worth far more than an hour in front of the television?
I challenge each of us to step out of our comfort zones, and learn to be effective listeners and communicators with our children.
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