Bringing Out the Winner
One of the greatest weaknesses that we have seen in parents over the years is not knowing how to listen to their children – or choosing not to listen. Listening is essential to knowing where your children are and where they may be headed.
Practice. Listening is a learned and practiced trait. The more we listen to our children, and they know that we are listening, the more they will want to talk. One of the best ways to get them to talk is to ask questions – not yes or no questions, but questions that will get them talking. For example, don’t ask, “Do you like Miss Jones?” Instead, ask, “Why do you like Mrs. Jones?” or “What makes Mrs. Jones a good teacher?”
Be Patient. You should try to get your children to talk, but when you get an “I don’t know,” perhaps you should back off or redirect to something that interests them or something they are ready to talk about. We might be banging on a door that is partially closed, but if you keep banging on it, it will completely close.
Use Wisdom. Don’t dig for things that are tucked deep in their chest that they don’t want to yet share. We have to give them the opportunity and space to decide to hand those gems to us. When we listen to God, He will give us the wisdom to listen to them better, to hear what is really being said, and more importantly to hear what is not being said.
Trust me – listening is the key to building a strong relationship with your children. Keep on practicing!
John Croyle, Founder, Big Oak Ranch
Author, Who You Are/Defying the Circumstances that Define Us, Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child, The Two Minute Drill to Manhood and Raising a Princess, www.bigoak.org