Raising Kids by Listening

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”  -Catherine M. Wallace

I am a huge advocate of listening to kids. Often I find that I only listen when my kids are whining, complaining, arguing or not feeling well. These are the “easy” times to listen. The “demanding” times to listen. The times when we aren’t really given much choice of whether we want to listen or not.

What about the times when my kids are helping, working together, playing nice, doing something they were told to do and feeling good? Do I listen to their stories about martians and robots and pocket knifes and American Girl dolls? Am I paying attention to things that bother them or make them proud? Do I hear what they are saying when they are explaining something important to me? Do I shoo them away when I am on the phone while mouthing the word later. Does later ever come? Do I go back to them after I hang up and give them my undivided attention to let them know I didn’t forget, I noticed them and I care?

I want to listen to my kids when they are young so that my kids are still coming to me when they are older.

A few months back we were bringing some items to our cabin. The trip was going to be a quick overnight and on the way Steven said, “I feel like I’m forgetting something. I didn’t bring any tools or anything and I usually do a project when we go up north.” Maddi consoled immediately and said, “It’s okay. We brought puzzles!”

Listen to your kids. They are great at solving problems.

Last week I went to pick-up Jordan after school at his Lego Class when I overheard him talking to a buddy saying, “Once my friend loved a girl…and then he found out she snorted.”

Listen to your kids. They are great at providing humor to the most hum-drum days.

When Hostess announced bankruptcy we were talking about the big news at dinner when Jordan said, “Maddi is seven and she has never ever had a Twinkie in her whole life. I had a half of one once because my friend at school shared his at lunch.” Steven raced off with all four kids to Cub Foods in search of any Hostess products left to buy. The shelves were bare. After going to four different stores they found a lonely box of Zingers (frosted Twinkies). Enjoying one for a bedtime snack Onie said, “This is the best night ever!” She coached her sister to peel the frosting off the top in order to get a true Twinkie experience.

Listen to your kids. They are great at living in the moment.

On Veteran’s Day we went to church at Fort Snelling with Steven’s mom and step-father. Passing by the cemetery, where Steven’s dad is buried, he told the kids to wave. Maddi waved and said, “Hi Grandpa! Get better!” Jordan turned and said, “Maddi, he can’t get better. He’s already better.” Quietly Steven and I exchanged glances, knowing Jordan was right. Heaven is our best.

Listen to your kids. They have beautiful and wise understanding.

I can only imagine what they will teach me when they are older.

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