I have a really bad habit of half-listening to my kids. Part of the reason for that is that we home-school, so they are with me 24/7, and they talk to me ALL DAY LONG! Especially my 7-year-old. She is definitely my chatty Kathy. I often tell her to breathe, for fear of her passing out due to lack of oxygen going into her lungs and the excess going out. (I only have myself to blame for that one…I myself could talk the hind leg off a horse!)
All three of my girls are funny, energetic little people, and I really enjoy who they are, but sometimes I feel like all that comes out of my mouth with all three of them is “uh-huh…yeah…wow”, but with very little excitement or enthusiasm. I get preoccupied and just listen, instead of really hearing them.
I noticed this the other day, and it bothered me. I don’t want to get to the point someday when my kids are all grown up, have families of their own, and I have regrets. I don’t want them growing up thinking that I am ‘too busy’ for them. Yes, I talk to my kids all day, but am I showing them that I am really interested in what they’re saying?
Really hearing our kids takes energy. Not because you don’t love them, or because you don’t care, or they don’t talk loud enough. It’s because a lot of their topics of conversation don’t particularly interest us. When they’re telling us about the latest ‘Sweet Life of Zack and Cody’ episode, we’re not always waiting on baited breath to hear how it ended. It may not be on the top of the list, but we still need to be attentive. Now I’m not saying that we have to stop everything we are doing, drop it all to sit in front of them like a groupie, but I know for myself, I need to stop, look and listen. Stop humoring their conversation, look at them, which shows them I’m giving them my attention, and listen to what they have to say and respond accordingly. I want to be their best audience! Even if it means telling them to ‘hold that thought’, until I can be completely attentive.
We hear all the time that ‘communication is the key’…well, communication goes both ways. I certainly expect their undivided attention when I am speaking to them, so I think it’s only fair to do the same, don’t you think? It shows them respect, and keeps those lines of communication wide open. It’s just another example of preventative maintenance. Being good listeners as moms gives the best example of how they can learn to do the same. You just never know what you might miss if you’re not really listening! Today, it may be about a Polly Pocket, or a Transformer, or about the latest Zack and Cody episode, but someday, it’ll be about a boy or girl they met, and we certainly wouldn’t want to give an inattentive ‘wow, really..uh.huh’ kind of response to that one because we weren’t really hearing them! Or even worse, because we haven’t listened all along, which translated to them means we just don’t care, they’d rather just text their friend about it. Yikes! That new episode of Zack and Cody is sounding pretty exciting right about now!