I made a post a while back on my acronym for LOVE. It’s such an important concept that I thought each letter deserves its own day.
“Listen” is the first word that spells out how to love (according to me). If you don’t listen to someone, communication and trust breaks down, and it’s pretty difficult (if not impossible) for them to believe anything you say to them.
My daughter gave me the perfect example last night.
We were all eating dinner last night- my husband, our ten year old daughter, our three year old son, and me. My daughter is from a two-household situation, so she’s with us Mondays, Tuesdays and every other weekend. It stinks, but we manage. Of the time she’s with us, Mondays and Fridays are gymnastics, and my husband works on Fridays and Saturdays. Therefore, Tuesday nights are the only time we can have an extended dinner together. Again, it stinks, but we make the most of the time, being thankful that we make that part of the week a priority.
Picture the table: I’m talkative and love to reflect on my day. Our son is a ball of white lighting and can easily dominate. My husband, when he speaks, usually says something of deep import. And then there’s our daughter.
She’s does have her chatty moments, but in general, she’s a monosyllabic girl. When I ask her how her day went, “Fine” is usually what I get. Such was the case last night. But a few minutes later, in between second helpings of rice and chili, and our son’s random musings, I managed to hear “I cried in school today… ”
She then proceeded to unravel a convoluted thread of fifth grade drama involving a group project, conflicting ideas, allegations of copying, and bruised egos. It clearly was important to her. I listened to her and gave her my full attention. I asked her if she’s okay now (she said she was) and she said, “I guess it’s just been an emotional week for me, with…” and then she emoted even more. About being from a divorce situation; her great grandmother dying this week; course selection for middle school… I offered to contact her teacher on her behalf and reassured her that we’re there for her.
Imagine if, when she first said about her crying, I hadn’t listened to her. What if I had just said, “Okay, Honey” and went on with my business? It would have destroyed her. Or what if we never made time to talk as a family?
Make the #153Promise to connect with your children on a daily basis to ask them about their day and really listen. It doesn’t have to be at a sit-down dinner; you can set the stage for “ear time” by:
- having a “no electronics” rule in the car and use the taxi time to debrief each other about important issues
- still “tuck them in at night” so they can have some one-on-one time with you
- making breakfast a “sharing time” as everyone is getting ready in the morning (if lunches and backpacks are already packed, clothes are picked out the night before, and healthy breakfasts are available, it frees up a lot of important time)
Listening is the first step to let your children know they are loved.
One thought on ““L” is for Listen…”
Although I have no children of my own (that I know of, at least), I feel that children are just like adults when it comes to communication. I know I’m annoyed when someone I’m trying to communicate with doesn’t give the conversation the attention it deserves. However, I’ve experienced it enough times to not internalize it. Children don’t have that luxury. When you don’t pay attention to them, it is immediately internalized, because they have yet to understand why people could possibly not engage in a conversation. Eye contact and sincere dialog. That’s what they deserve.