To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well. —John Marshall (1755–1835)
Want to communicate to your kids that you care? Listen.
If you think you’re pretty good at listening then you shouldn’t be afraid of this little test. Ask yourself, When’s the last time my child came to me with a question or problem?
If you’re not a very good listener, your children may have learned long ago not to bother you because you don’t really listen anyway—all you do is lecture and then go back to what you were doing before you were interrupted.
Maybe that suits you just fine. You don’t want to be a dumping ground for their problems. But be warned. If your kids need to talk about something they are going to find someone to talk to. They will find someone who will listen. And that person will offer advice. And it could be bad advice leading to tragic results.
It may be that listening doesn’t come naturally to men. It feels like a passive activity, and we’re action-oriented. The solution? Practice active listening. Ask questions. Nod. Make eye contact. Get clarification. Rephrase their words back to them, so they know you really hear what they’re saying. Don’t be too quick with answers. Make it a point to pause before giving advice.
The art of listening may be one of those secret parenting skills that moms have over dads. With a little practice, you can do even better than her.
Speaking of your children’s mom. Listening is a good way to communicate that you care about your wife as well. But you already knew that.
What about you?
Maybe you’re the kind of guy who likes to lecture. That can be an effective parenting style, especially if you lecture from an informed perspective. And how do you get informed? You listen. In other words, listen first, and your lectures will have much more impact.
Adapted from: One-Minute Devotions for Dads. Copyright © 2012 by Jay Payleitner. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.