Saturday, September 8, 2007

Listening To Our Children

Eric and I drove 2-1/2 hours one way to go to Grayson's football game last night. We went to a cute little town on the coast. It was a beautiful drive there, but boy what a long and winding road! The exciting thing is the Bulldog's won again! That is two in a row! Our town's high school football team does not have a long history of winning, so this is pretty exciting for everyone. Grayson had a great game and was so happy afterwards. I picked him up at the high school at 1:30 a.m., crazy!

I don't resent picking up my kids late at night, in fact I have learned that it is an opportunity to get some of those golden nuggets a mother so desires. For some reason that is when we have some of our best talks and my kids feel like having deep conversations. I have realized this has happened a lot over the years, it is not just when I pick them up late at night, it often happens right when I am turning off the lights saying goodnight or early in the morning when I need to get ready for work.

When your teenage son wants to talk............ stop everything and listen! Even if you lose a couple of hours of sleep, it is so important to be available and to LISTEN and to give wise, sound, GODLY advice!

This is one of the best pieces of advice that my mother gave me. Listen to your kids and it starts when they are tiny. When they wake up when they are 3 years old and they want to tell you their really long and involved dream (even if it is not very interesting!), listen to every word, make eye contact and ask questions. Never belittle them or laugh at what they say. Validate what they are saying. What you are doing is establishing a strong bond of communication with that child. The rewards you receive from this will be tenfold. Over the years they come home from school and tell you every detail of what happened at recess etc. and again, you listen to every detail and slowly start giving them advice and your opinion of the situation (of course you need to use your good judgement and not encourage them to be long, boring, self-centered talkers; this is a very fine, delicate line to cross, so pray for God's wisdom and guidance). You are building a wonderful trusting open relationship between the two of you. When they are in their teens, they trust you and they know that they can share their deep secrets with you and they trust your advice and value your opinion.

I have had so many evenings when it is just myself and one of my sons watching a TV show and the show gets over, it's late, we turn off the TV, pray and start turning off the lights. All the sudden they will say something like so and so is going out with so and so, or so and so cheated on a test, or even so and so told the kids at school that he smoked a cigarette, got drunk etc. (it gets worse as they get older). A foolish woman would say, "oh really, well, lets go to bed" and totally miss the opportunity. Another foolish woman might say "I don't want you talking to those kids" and end it at that and go to bed. A foolish woman might say "what is that boy's name, I'm going to call his mother or call the school" and by doing so totally putting up a wall that her child can never trust her with a secret.

A wise woman first thinks in her mind, my child has just revealed something deep and secretive, not all kids tell their mother things like this, I am going to sit down and listen and ask questions. The wise woman stops and says a quick prayer, "Lord, thank you that my child just opened up to me like this, help me to have wisdom, guide and direct me with what I should say. Help me to be responsive to the Holy Spirit to disciple my child through this conversation." Then the wise woman sacrifices her sleep and sits down to talk and listen to her child. These moments are teachable moments. A time to build that trust but also to weave things of the Lord into the conversation, a time to talk to your child about right and wrong, that the kids they are talking about are sadly making foolish choices and give them advice on waiting on God, trusting God and doing things God's way. I always encourage my kids to pray for the kids they are talking about too, because they usually need prayer!

Without revealing too much of his private life, last night's conversation was exactly what I had prayed for in the morning, Grayson opened up and reaffirmed with me that he is walking the straight and narrow path and is making wonderful, wise, Godly choices and is using discernment. We talked about waiting for God to bring him the special girl that God has chosen for him and to trust God as he is waiting. He actually said he got excited thinking about that God has a girl out there who is preparing to meet him some day and it is going to be awesome! We talked about walking the straight and narrow path and learning what God wants him to learn right now. I have got a son who is really showing that he is growing into a strong man of God and I am so proud and so thankful!

Young mothers, I really encourage you to listen to your children. If you want your teenage child to trust you and open up to you with what is going on in their lives, listen to them and build that relationship with them. Pray, pray, pray over them and ask God constantly for his wisdom for you as you are raising your kids!

"Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance - for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." Proverbs 1:5-8
~ Sharon

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