Many times throughout the day I hear my children, but I’m not truly listening to them. If I had a nickel for every time I did that, I’d be a rich woman in the monetary sense, but not rich in the way that really counts- genuine love. Ask me what they said, and I could easily repeat the words to you. But the words my children speak feel as if they bounce off my skin and tap my ear but don’t make it through to my heart.
Not truly listening is something I am not proud of. Many times I have reminded myself to stay present and listen, and over and over again I find myself falling back into the same shallow waters of surface hearing. Do I think my children deserve for me to listen and give them heartfelt attention all the time? Absolutely! Yet, I do not do it all the time. I don’t have the answers of how to fix this issue, only a desire to do better next time.
When my husband speaks to me if I am busy doing something or not giving him my full attention, I often ask him to hold on a second or tell me again, because the intent for wanting to truly hear him is there. This works well in our relationship. He is able to wait a moment so I can give him my full attention, and I am able to open my heart and listen. If this worked with children, I’d be all set. Sadly, it does not.
When I am cooking and my daughter wants to show me something, or ask me a question, she often gets the “un-huh” or “that’s great” response. The kind of response that happens when your ears are closed and the words cannot pass through them into your heart. When I am speaking and someone does not hear me, or isn’t truly listening, I never like it. As an adult, I don’t take it too personally, because really life is too short for that. A child doesn’t understand the same way. If I ask tone of them to hold on one minute while I finish getting dinner ready and then tell me, the usual response is “But just look real quick, Mom!” or “I just want to tell you one thing.” Every Mom knows that one thing leads to infinitely more things, and that is when the ears start to close.
Would we still be able to get things done if we stopped what we were doing every time to truly listen to our children? Maybe. I really don’t know. Who is to say whether we use that as an excuse as parents, or if it is really valid. And what about the times you struggle to have any interest? Like talking about trains- All. The. Time.
What I want is for my kids to feel like I listen to them, that I really hear them. I don’t want them to feel brushed off frequently, and yet I do it on a daily basis. I wish I had the solution, but I do not. My only hope is to be quiet, still, and listen for the answers within my soul.
Have you found a way to keep your listening ears on?