It can be really hard to drop everything and just listen to your kids. Life is crazy busy, and it can be difficult to find the time when we are being pulled five different ways at once.
Even though we are caught up in the busy-ness of life itself, and the hard work of keeping a household running smoothly, we need to make sure we are also finding time for the priorities.
How can you show your kids that you love them, respect them, and care about them if you don’t have time to listen? This is not meant to make you feel bad or guilty! We are all doing our very best.
But, in order to raise confident future leaders, we have to find the time to teach our children the value of their voice.
That means stopping what we are doing and giving them our undivided attention, whenever we can.
The Importance of Listening to Your Kids
I went to the University of Pittsburgh, and I have spent the last ten years either teaching a class or working as a play therapist. All of that education could not have taught me the one lesson that I learned in the most unexpected of places–an episode of Oprah.
Maya Angelou was the guest that day. She was full of wisdom, so I knew that what she was going to say would have great meaning.
Ms. Angelou told Oprah that one time, her son brought her a picture that he had made. He had drawn and colored it himself. When he had finished, he was excited to show her.
When he showed it to her, she didn’t give him her full attention. Instead, she just said something like, “it’s nice”, and then continued to cook dinner for her family.
What A Child Actually Hears When We Are Busy…
He walked away, saddened. What he did next is was what stuck with me. He took the picture, ripped it up, and threw it away.
Later, Maya Angelou found it in the garbage can, and asked him why he would do such a thing to his beautiful picture.
He said that it was because she didn’t like it.
By not giving him her attention, he took it to mean that his mother didn’t like his picture–that it wasn’t good. It wasn’t important.
We Can Always Do Better For Our Kids
From that point on, she vowed to pay attention to everything he showed her, because he truly valued her opinion.
The same way our children value our opinions.
When they say, “Mom, look at this!” and we respond with, “Just one more minute.” Or, “hang on a second, honey.” Our kids hear, “this is just a little more important to me right now.”
It isn’t what we mean, but it is what they hear.
It Isn’t Easy
Believe me, I understand the difficulties of parenting in this era.
The line between work and family life is constantly blurring. Houses need cleaning and upkeep, there are a million commitments to school, Church, charities, friends, family, doctor’s appointments, and the never-ending pile of laundry.
The things is… most of that stuff isn’t going anywhere. Your child on the other hand, grows by the very minute. Their sense of self-worth, and finding their own voice and place in this world is something that starts at a young age. They need you now.
One day, they will be grown, and ready to leave the nest. It’s in these fleeting years that we have a tiny window to impact their self-perception.
How To Find Time When There Isn’t Much of It
I am blessed enough to work from home, but that still comes with its disadvantages at times. For example, the time that daughter’s afternoon bus arrives is the busiest point of my workday.
She and I have agreed that if she had a good day, she can grab a snack, start her homework, and wait a few minutes for me to tie up some loose ends before fully emerging from my office so can discuss her day, before I have to go back to work for a few hours.
If I see storm clouds in her eyes, and a trembling chin as she steps off the bus, I make myself available, immediately.
I am not perfect. I am not always able to drop everything right when she has something to share with me, but I really do try.
If I can’t be right there, when I am finally free, she is my first priority, and I apologize. Some may say it’s spoiling her, but I don’t care.
I want my daughter to know that her thoughts, feelings, life, and accomplishments all matter to me. They are top priority, and I am sorry when I can’t be there exactly when she needs me.
That apology, and the truth behind it mean something to her.
It’s because of this that she knows I will be there the minute I am able to. She is also very polite and understands that the adults in her life are not dismissing her importance if they ask her to please wait– she knows that she isn’t the center of the universe. But she also knows she is important, valued, and heard.
It Doesn’t Take Much to Listen to Your Kids
If your child brings you a drawing, even if you are cooking dinner, they just want to see your excited smile–to know that it means as much to you as it does to them.
They want to be asked about their drawing. Ask them questions about their technique, or the objects in the picture. Have them tell you the story behind it as you chop veggies, and stir the sauce.
My eleven-year-old still brings me her detailed drawings, and I love it! If I can’t stop what I am doing at the moment to talk about it, I thank her for giving me something to look forward to.
Then, as soon as I am able, I make good on what I’ve said, and give her my full attention.
Remember, if you’re busy, that’s okay and to be expected at times. Don’t beat yourself up or feel terrible. You have to work and keep the house clean in order to raise your child.
Just keep the lines of communication open. Let them know that you absolutely care and will always be there to listen, as soon as you are able.
Parenting is the toughest, yet most fulfilling role I have ever taken on. It definitely takes a village! Take advantage of the cyber one we have built here, and check out these articles:
- My Child is Lying to Get Out of Trouble
- I Am the X Factor in My Kids’ Education
- Trick to Getting Your Kids to Listen 100% of the Time
What advice do you have to share when it comes to listening to your kids? Comment below!