When To Speak, When to Listen
While I was pregnant with my oldest child I would often speak to her while I patted my swollen belly. I’d read her stories from the Bible, talk to her about her father and where we lived, and let her know she was loved. When she was born she had a healthy set of lungs. She came out screaming! The lights in the hospital were bright. She felt wet and cold and scared, and she let everyone in the hospital room know it. I felt weak and exhausted after a difficult labor, but I heard her voice, and I needed her to know I was there. “Hello, Baby,” I said. My daughter stopped screaming for a minute. She perked up her ears. It was obvious to my husband and all the nurses that she recognized my voice. She knew I was there.
In the months and years to follow I have had many things to say to her and the rest of my children.
“No, don’t eat that plant!”
“This is how you ride your bike.”
“Sound out the letters. The “C” says “k”. The “A” says “aaah”. The “T” says “t”.
“Look both ways before you cross the street.”
“Don’t sit on your brother’s head.”
Young children need to be spoken to often. They need instruction. They need guidance and words of wisdom. As a chatterbox and champion for giving unsolicited advice, being verbal with my kids comes easily to me. When there was a problem (and even when there wasn’t) I was ready to be there, ready to impart knowledge and show them the way.
However, my kids aren’t so young anymore. I now have two teenagers and two junior high students living at home. They don’t need to hear my wisdom so much anymore. (They’ve heard most of it before anyway.) What my kids need more often than not is a good listener.
Ahh! For me, being a good listener is so much harder! But it’s so important! When I talk more, they talk less. If I listen more, they share more of their lives with me. Here are some lessons I’m still learning:
- Always pray for them, particularly that God would bless them with great Christian friends.
- Don’t be nosy. Be available to them, and they will share their hearts with me when they’re ready.
- For my teens, rather than tell them how they should do something, I should ask them how they hope to tackle whatever problem they may be facing.
- Stand back and let them fall sometimes; they will learn from their mistakes.
- Trust that God loves them more than I do, and He has fantastic plans for their lives.
I’m thankful to serve a God who loves me and is always listening to me. To be really listened to is a rarity in this world. Lord, help me to listen more and speak less. If I can grow in this way, I can be a much better parent to my teens, and a blessing to those around me. Amen.
James 1:19 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,”
James 1:26 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
Proverbs 23:19 “Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.”
Proverbs 18:13 “He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.”
John 10: 27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Copyright July 25th, 2013 by Gwen Fredette
All Scripture taken from NIV (New International Version)