Listening Earnestly

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.” ~ Catherine M. Wallace …

In thinking back to my childhood, Catherine is right: all my experiences, everything I went through, it was all “big stuff” to me. And when I thinking back to who I confided in, and who I entrusted my heart to, it was those who were able to “listen earnestly” to me, no matter what.

You see, children implicitly look to us adults as role models of who they are to become, for better or for worse; they study us, they imitate us, they emulate us. Additionally, they look to us for validation and approval–they want to know that they are an important part of our lives and that we are genuinely a part of theirs. And if they cannot get this validation and approval from us… they will go elsewhere to find it… perhaps to places that are harmful to them such as gangs and crooks.

Show concern for the children in your life… especially your own. Hug them often. Listen attentively to what they have to say and engage them in fruitful conversation, no matter what; because at that moment, what they want to tell you, to them, is perhaps one of the most important things they can tell you. It is up to you to validate them by making it the most important thing they could tell you. And above all, be sure to let them know how much they mean to you and how important a role they play in your life. Before you know it… they will be all grown up.

Listen attentively with each child who speaks to you.

Questions to consider:

In what ways is listening earnestly conducive towards a healthy friendship?

What are some positive effects of listening carefully to children? What are the effects of poor listening?

Where do we learn to listen? Who are our role models?

For further thought:

“You can hear your loved ones no matter how poorly your ears work. I know deaf people who are able to hear with their hearts. And I know people with perfect ears who drive their families crazy with their lack of hearing. I know about this firsthand because our children used to get upset when I read the paper and watched television while they were talking to me. They’d say, “Dad, you’re not listening.” I would repeat all the things they said to prove I was listening, but they told me that being able to repeat their words was not the same thing as hearing them. Hearing means listening attentively to what they had to say. Today when one of the children wants to talk to me, I put down the paper, turn off the television and listen to what he has to tell me…. I also have learned how to say “m-m-m” in many ways and to stop trying to solve everyone’s problems. They thank me for listening. It helps them to clarify and solve their problems.” ~ Bernie Siegel

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