Why Being a Good Listener is a Key to Good Parenting

When children begin to talk, something long awaited by excited parents, it never seems to be what anyone expects or wants to hear. It's not always interesting to listen to a child babble about their new toy. Their questions are easy to answer most of the time, yet the patience required to give an understandable explanation of anything to a young, confused face is barely attainable. The fast-tracked stressful life that a mother and father can lead sometimes leaves no temper to listen to a child.

A nine-year-old boy must come up with a brilliant thing to say to fasten a parent's eyes upon him. Otherwise, he often is interrupting, being silly or innappropriate, or not "thinking before he speaks". Starting a conversation or joining one with a group, or just a pair, of adults requires great forethought, planning, and juggling ways to phrase bits and pieces of what he may want to say or ask. Many of his comments or ideas get thrown out as "not important" , "won't work", or "off the subject".

If a child waits for all these grown-ups to quit talking, he may forget what he was going to say. Or it may be time for bed before he gets a chance. By the time he is thirteen, he has gotten the hang of it. "No one wants to hear me. Just forget it, I'm not smart enough to say anything important." No one wants to be a fool in their words. Our words are our thoughts; our thoughts are our minds, and our minds are who we are and what is in our hearts.

So if your nine-year old monopolizes the conversation about his friends, is silly, giggly, loud and out of control (I know mine is), that means that he is a child expressing himself freely. Will his parents have gained any tolerance for that behavior when he is fifteen, and avoiding them behind the closed door of his bedroom, and says nothing at dinner, if they can even get him to come out?

Everything a child does, thinks , feels, accomplishes, fears, doubts, all starts with his parents.

We should listen. We should not ignore, and succeed at making our kids afraid to say the wrong thing. Fear of failure runs quick through the blood, and there is no antidote. It stays around for a lifetime. Unbelievable, really, the incredible power parents are given over another human's life.

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Paul W. Reeves
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Posted on Nov 27, 2008