Have you ever had your kids try to get your attention while you’re on the computer? Sometimes my boys talk to me while I’m in the middle of something and I think I’m listening… but after their voice stops and they’re waiting for an answer, I realize I have NO IDEA what they just said to me.
Homeschool moms are busy. We are the queens of multitasking! We are forced to learn how to do many things at the same time. We can listen to one child while making breakfast, planning a lesson, and throwing another load of dishes into the dishwasher – all at the same time. Unfortunately, our ability to multitask can make our sons feel like we don’t value them enough to stop what we’re doing and really listen to them.
There are several different ways that we can cause problems by the way we listen (or don’t listen) to our sons. The first way we do this is by not fully listening to them in the first place.
Our men in training deeply desire our love and respect. When we continue doing what we’re doing and just throw half an ear their way, they don’t feel loved or respected. When boys don’t feel respected, they have a tendency to speak to us in a way that sounds disrespectful.
This can spiral downward with our words getting more and more unkind and can often turn into something that Emerson Eggerichs, author of “Love and Respect in the Family” would call the Family Crazy Cycle. The Family Crazy Cycle is not a happy place to find ourselves. Exchanging harsh words with our kids is not only frustrating – it’s also exhausting.
When we find ourselves in this type of situations, we need to ask ourselves three questions:
- Is my child feeling unloved?
- Am I feeling disrespected?
- How will I parent God’s way regardless of how I’m currently feeling?
We are the parents, and we need to take responsibility for defusing the bombs in our child’s heart rather than detonating them. We need to guard against saying or doing anything that will cause our kids to lose heart or to become deflated.
Slow down and try to decode what’s actually happening in your child’s heart. Kids live in the moment. They don’t start trying to devise ways to make us upset from the moment they wake up in the morning. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
The second way that we can cause problems by the way we listen to our sons is by listening to respond, rather than listening to hear. Unfortunately, I’m so guilty of this. The whole time my sons are talking to me, I find myself thinking of what I’m going to say back to them rather than actually hearing what they’re trying to say.
Again, it’s important to try to decode what our sons are trying to say to us. What is the message they’re trying to get through. Even if it’s said clumsily, it is our job to try to make sense of what they’re saying.
Sometimes, boys say one thing when they really mean another. “You don’t love me!” can actually mean, “I’m feeling unloved. Please reassure me that you love me.”
When we feel accused of not loving our own child, our explosive response can have the opposite effect of what we intend. We are surprised and try to defend ourselves and it comes across to our son that we don’t love them… or at the very least that we’re angry with them.
The next time your son wants to talk to you, here are five important tips for listening to your child:
- Stop what you’re doing
- Give them your full attention – use good eye contact
- Listen to hear, not to respond
- Try to decode what’s going on in their heart, regardless of the actual words they use – allow for imperfections
- Respond to your son in a way that will reassure him of your love
If you start listening to your son in this way, he will feel more loved and respected – and will be more likely to show you love and respect when he communicates with you as well. This technique will do a lot for your relationship as well as to increase the happiness in your home.
QUESTION: Have you found any other tips for listening to your kids that you could share? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.