When I was potty training my son, he developed this somewhat obnoxious habit. Normally a very loud child, he would barely whisper when he needed to use the bathroom! He would whisper that he had to go and he would also tell you what toilet he wanted to use (we had 3 bathrooms). Obviously we addressed this behavior when we realized it was becoming his pattern, but I learned something during those first attempts:
No matter what was going on in my day, when I heard my loud child whisper…I knew to listen! And listen very closely! I also learned that I will never be a competitive contestant on a show like Minute-To-Win-It or the Amazing Race. Definitely not my skill set. I’m still glad God protected us, those few times, on the hardwood stairs.
As funny or frustrating as it was, my son was trying to communicate his needs with me. He was very easy to understand, once I knew to be listening. As parents, it is our job to be trained students of our children. You become a student of anything, when you open your mind long enough to be still and listen. Once we are listening, we can understand. With understanding comes knowledge. And I’m guessing you’re like me and you want to be knowledgeable about your child!
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
In order to listen, and listen earnestly, you have to slow down. Your children know when you are distracted. Several research groups have recently recorded that around 64% of children feel that their parents are always distracted and rarely have time to listen. They also concluded by saying that being ignored produces the same chemical reaction in the brain as experiencing a physical injury.
If we truly understand that our children have been entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father, then we will prioritize learning to listen. I have found, with both of my children, that when I am engaged in their words, they keep talking. And when they keep talking, we move past the silly conversations and we began to talk about the spiritual. My biggest spiritual opportunities have begun with silly. If I had been distracted in those moments, I would have missed them completely, unaware of what God wanted to do in their hearts and mine. When we listen to our children, they will learn to listen to us and more importantly to their Heavenly Father. Our own behavior is a much stronger indicator of the message they are receiving from us than the words that we say. If the two messages contradict, actions will win, every time.
Hupakouó, actually means “I listen to obey.”
(Strong’s Concordance for the Greek word listen)
The act of listening has an opportunity, through God’s power, to redeem our families and revolutionize our daily living. It really is that crucial! That amazing! If we as parents are listening to God, in order to obey what He says, we will parent in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our children will begin listening to us, in order to obey what we are saying. As they obey, we have opportunities to lead them to God and disciple them in their relationship with Him. It truly is a full circle process of redemption.
It begins with a whisper.