Monday, May 2, 2011

31 Days Closer to Your Kids: Listen

Shelly Final

"Mom! You're not listening to me!"

Have you ever heard those words from your kids? I have. And it makes me cringe every time.

Yesterday, in my introduction to this series, I mentioned that getting closer to our kids isn't just an automatic thing. Just because they live under our roofs doesn't necessarily mean we're "connecting" with them.

I have teenagers. And if you also have teenagers, you know how tough it is sometimes to connect with them. We parents want to just pour what little bit of wisdom we have into our kids while we still have them in our homes. We feel this sense of urgency to talk to them about the world and everything they will need to know once they're out and on their own.

But today I want to encourage you to just slow down and do one thing for your kids: listen.

No matter what age your children are, just listen. Eventually they will tell you what's on their hearts. Don't push. Don't prod. Just close your mouth and listen.

I have found that listening to my kids is good for me for a couple of reasons. First, because it's so hard for me, listening is a good exercise in self-control. How often do I just space out when one of my girls is going on and on with a long story? But they know the minute they lose me. And that's when I hear, "Mom, you're not listening to me!"

Ugh. I hate it when they're right.

The second reason I've found that listening is important is because it empowers our kids. Think about times when others have really paid attention to what you've had to say. Doesn't it feel great? Don't you feel like your words mean something? Like your words have power?

Our kids live in a crazy-busy, loud world where everyone seems to be shouting for attention at once. If we're not careful, our kids might end up feeling like their voice cannot be heard, like their voice doesn't matter at all.

Today, take a minute to show your kids that their voice does matter. Close your laptop. Turn off the radio. Look your child in the eye. And listen.

Just listen.

This post is being linked to Amanda's "Weekend Bloggy Reading" at Serenity Now. Head over there for some great posts!



  1. This is such great advice. Especially when I'm at the computer, I'm guilty of this. UGH. I try to stop what I'm doing, look at my child in the eye, and tell them that they have my full attention. It has helped some. Unfortunately when I'm lost in a good book, there is no hope! LOL.

  2. Your words are so true. I have to remind myself of this constantly. I am amazed by what my children and their friends tell me when I just sit back and really listen.

  3. I am totally listening to YOU right now. I need this advice. I am always in "talking, teaching, correcting" mode. So rarely in "listening" mode.

    I will do this...starting today.

    I love your series already.

  4. I do this much more often than I like to admit. I am always trying to multitask, even when my kids are trying to talk to me. Some of this is adaptive (we have 6 kids and there's a fair amount of work involved), but I need to force myself to put down the dish towel or whatever sometimes and JUST listen. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. I'm going to practice this today. Thanks for a great start to your series.

  6. Amen Shelly, as the father of three teens i can say you are dead on. There were so many days that our entire focus was big picture with our kids but just the other day i asked my daughter to go to grocery store with me and we had the best hour together in months - lots of listening (on my part). Turns out she's more mature than i thought - who knew. So amen - take time to get some face time - anywhere. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. thanks for these words. I'm sharing this on FB :).

  8. I'll keep this short in honor of listening to my talking 5-year-old. :)

  9. Yes! Wonderful! And it will teach THEM how to listen well to others, too.

  10. My 5 year old has been communicating to me that she needs more time with me. Her communication style was yelling and throwing fits -- she didn't know how to just ask. And perhaps, since I was so busy last week, I wouldn't have heard her anyway, which is very sad. Today, though, has been so much better!

  11. Thanks, Shelly. That was great. I thought about it this afternoon when my daughter was listing all the names she might name a daughter one day and wanting my opinion: "And then which way do you like the best to spell Katherine -- Catherine, Kathryn, ...."! :-)
    Just savoring and enjoying these moments. Thanks for the great reminder. Excited about this series of blog posts!

  12. I feel this is getting harder and harder today....I watch it as I go out and parents are so connected to their iphones that they miss the life of their child in front of them. I am trying really hard to continue to listen...I still have two at home, and I have to reminded myself to stop and not miss it...they will be gone before I know it...four already are.

  13. I totally agree with you. The more I listen to my children, the more I know them for real and can value who they are and affirm that.

  14. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of listening to my children! I can do a fair job of "pretending" to listen, but need to listen with all of me - my eyes, ears, head, and heart.

    Hope you have a great Mother's Day weekend!

  15. Loved this post!! I featured it yesterday. :)

    Thanks for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. Hope you'll stop by Serenity Now again soon! :)

  16. This is wonderful advice! I'm going to strive to intentionally put it into practice this week.

    Thank you!