Monday, April 25, 2011

Mom, Do You Listen Well?

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Although talking and texting with their friends comes naturally, as kids enter their adolescent years, talking with their parents can become strained. It seems we moms only get busier as our children grow, so we must train ourselves to become even more intentional about listening. Believe me, you don't want to miss anything they say! Try these three tips to become more purposeful in listening to your middle schooler.

Listen without talking. Middlers are sometimes slow to pull their thoughts together. After all, they are developing mentally, as well! Your child needs a patient listener who does not interrupt or try to rush him through a conversation by speaking for him. My middler knows that I often fall short in this area of listening. I try to keep the words of James 1:19 before me: quick to listen, slow to speak...
  • Make eye contact.
  • Focus on your child.
  • Don't plan how you're going to respond or reply until your child is finished talking.
  • To be sure you were listening well, repeat what your child said. Say, "Okay, I heard you say that you wanted to..."
 Listen without fixing it. Often your twelve-year-old just wants to talk through a decision she is making. She does not want you to make it for her. Determine if your child is asking for advice or if she is simply turning to you as a sounding board. How will you know? Just let her keep talking!
  • Does your silence lead her to continue reasoning, or is she looking at you expectantly?
  • Rather than giving her an answer, ask questions that will lead her to a conclusion of her own. If you make this decision, how will you feel later today? How will you feel about it next month? Who will be affected by your decision?
Listen without distractions. A mom once told me how her son had sent his younger brothers and sisters outside after dinner one night, implying that he would join them soon to play. Instead, he began slowly helping her clear the table and load the dishwasher. It took her a few minutes, but she realized that he was trying to have some one-on-one time with her. He had sent his younger sibs outside so he could have his mom all to himself, knowing he would receive her undivided attention and listening ear.
  • Take advantage of drives to sports practices and music lessons by showing your interest in listening to your child.
  • Put the cell phone on silent and turn the radio down.
  • Plan occasional dates with your growing child.

 The years are few and fleeting. Listen well!


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