Hone Your Listening Skills

I got a new watch for Christmas. It's my favorite Christmas present. It's a girly Red Sox watch, with the Red Sox logo in the center, surrounded by fake diamonds. While I love the Red Sox, that's not why my watch is my favorite present. My watch broke about two weeks before Christmas. My husband was standing in the room when it broke. I remember him asking me if it could be fixed, and I decided it would cost more to fix than it would to get a new watch. I hadn't gotten around to replacing it when Christmas rolled around.

My watch is my favorite Christmas present because it required my husband to pay attention to what was happening in my world. He had to know that my watch was broken, then he had to pick out something he knew I would like. I would have been happy with a regular new watch, but I love my Red Sox watch. It fits me to a T. When it comes to presents, this one is a home run. Every time I look at it, I feel loved.

Giving our kids what they need requires the same process as the one my husband went through when he bought me a watch for Christmas. We have to pay attention to what they are saying -- and sometimes to what they are not saying -- then choose to give them what they need in a the form that's most appropriate for that particular child.

It's easy to get so caught up in the daily to-dos of life that we stop listening to our kids. We can miss important cues and cries for help when we're focused on the next thing in the schedule instead of on what our kids are really saying.

As we leave the relaxed days of Christmas break behind and jump back into the daily grind of work, school, sports and activities, make it a point to make time to listen to your kids. Set aside a few minutes in your day to talk with your kids about what's going on in their lives. Whether it's at bedtime, the breakfast table or in the car on the way to soccer practice, get your kids talking and take the time to listen.

When our kids are talking to us, we need to listen. If we don't, our kids will stop talking. Listening to our kids is one of the best gifts we can give them. By listening, we let them know we think they are important and their thoughts are valuable.

It's easy to think that in the grand scheme of the world, our kids troubles with their friends or their worries about monsters in the closet aren't that important. We all know that those childhood worries and fears will disappear as they grow. But how our kids learn to deal with those thiings now will shape how they deal with larger troubles and fears in the future. When we jump in to offer advice and direction without really listening, we run the risk of teaching our kids bad habits in dealing with the tough issues in life. Proberbs 18:13 says "To answer before listening—that is folly and shame."

As we embark back into the routine of this new year, make it a point to listen to your kids. You won't be sorry you did.

Having trouble getting your kids to talk to you? Don't miss tomorrow's blog on creative ways to get your kids talking.