Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Listening - fully

As I read a blog post from "Hands Free Mama", my heart ached.  How often do I really listen to my kids?  I fear that more often than I'd like to admit, I "half listen" as I continue typing, reading, chopping, folding, whatever task has the other half of my attention.
Our Southwest family vacation - The Grand Canyon

Not saying that I NEVER listen to them, but do I take the time when they desire it, when it's not on MY agenda, but theirs; to fully listen and give them my complete and full attention?  Sure, I sporadically do just that, but maybe not as often as I should.

Determined to stop - I prayed, tears welling up in my eyes.  "God, help me be ever present for my kids, as you are ever present for me.  Don't allow me to 'sorta' listen, smile and nod as if I'm listening; but cause my heart to stop my actions, look them in the eyes and REALLY listen; TRULY hear what they are saying.  Change my heart, oh God, so my undivided attention portrays the unconditional love I have for them because of the unconditional love you have given me."

Knowing my habits and my weaknesses, I decided to make a plan.  HOW would I accomplish this imperative goal of listening and knowing my children in a real and concrete manner?

One easy solution, that I've instituted in the past but let slip away, is to close the laptop lid when one of our children begins talking to me.  Not opening it again until THEY have decided the conversation - or monologue - is finished.

Another antic I can employ, invite them to talk to me as I cook, fold laundry. Tasks that do not require my mental energy and allow me to look them in the face - at least part of the time - while we converse.

Pause a movie to answer their questions.  What an opportunity to hear what's on their hearts and minds; to discover how the images on the screen are shaping their values, their thought processes.  What does it matter if the 1/2 hour program lasts over an hour?  Think of all I can learn and of the message I'll be sending to their little hearts.  "I'm more important to mommy than this movie."  Contrary, what do they think when I tell them to "shush" so I can hear the dialogue on the screen.  CRINGE!!!!

At bedtime, instead of hurriedly rushing through the nighttime ritual, what if I asked them more questions, sat at the end of their beds and let them share their hearts - their worries, their proud moments, their failings - allowed them to ask "one more question" before lights out?  What a loud proclamation of my love.

I'm dedicated to really knowing my children while they are still under my wing.  When they fly out on their own, I want them to CHOOSE to return; to share their hearts; to continue wanting to talk to their mom.

I don't want their days to be spent counting down till they can "leave the next" or worse "fly the coop" to be on their own.  I want leaving to be a growth of independence, not a means to escape a place they felt unknown/unheard.

Happily skipping off together - I don't want them to flee home but leave to become all God created them to be because it's the right time.
Sounds obvious - if only I make it a priority.  Our "simple" living should make such changes even easier.  Won't you come along side me?  Make some changes yourself to truly listen to those you love.  Help me stay true to my commitment to listen - fully.


  1. Liz,
    I really enjoyed reading this article. It has inspired me to try and be a better listener to my husband and kids:)

  2. Excellent post and reminder Liz! Curious, what did Hands Free Momma say that spurred this on?

  3. Thanks, Jessica. It's a constant struggle for me. I get so distracted or involved and have "my agenda" to complete. Really making a more concerted effort to stop, redirect my attention, and listen -- fully.

    Lifefullyloaded - it's been a little bit since I read the article... She was writing from the view point of wanting her own children to feel heard and known. With our current 'high tech' world, it's easy to allow the cell phone, internet, instant viewing to keep our minds busy and we forget to listen, to really hear our kids.


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