Dr. James Dobson tells us that, “the amount of live language directed to a child (not to be confused with television, radio, or overheard conversations) is vital to her development of fundamental linguistic, intellectual, and social skills.” (The New Strong-Willed Child, 96) This quote was in regards to fourteen-month-old children. However, this need never goes away. From an extremely early age, our kids need us to pay close attention to them. They need us to listen to what they have to say.
We all try to find the balance between the right amount of time to spend at work and in the house. We attempt to set a boundary in our life to keep us from spoiling our children. We all try to establish the right amount of toys to have in the house, the right number of activities to have them plugged into and the right schedule for them to be on at all times. We worry so much about proper development. However, one area that we can often fail at is actually hearing what they have to say.
As Dobson points out, the amount of active listening that we put into our children as they develop goes a long way in determining how they will be as an adult. If you want to have a teenage child that knows how to communicate what they want with you, the process must begin when they are young. When your child learns, at an early age, how to communicate their desires to you and also that you are willing to hear what they have to say, they will come to trust you as they get older in regards to the decisions the start to make as young adults.
My wife and I were driving around Lynchburg this morning as we went from one activity to another. We had been to Riverside Park where we spent a couple of hours playing tag and hide-and-seek with our children. The park was mostly empty since most kids are in school now so it was perfect. We left there to go to a friend’s house to watch the solar eclipse with her family. Our kids had been picking at each other all morning to the point that we had to simply tell them that they could no longer talk to each other.
Then, out of nowhere, Elisa states to each of them, “You can always talk to me about what you are feeling. It doesn’t matter what it’s about, even if you’re feeling angry and are thinking hurtful things. You can always tell me that. I will always listen.” In the moment, I was confused about what had placed that thought into her head. However, it really flows perfectly with where my mind has been today.
How available do we make ourselves to our children? How willing are we to listen to them when they just want to tell a story or express their feelings? We are very quick to dictate commands to them, in an effort to guide them through life. Yet, do we always stop to ask them how they are feeling?
Life is Strange. Live it Well.