Because I have so much to learn in this area, I am relying on one of our Catch members today for advice on raising kids — in this case, highly opinionated kids who happen to be his sons.
This discussion on building bridges has been an eye-opener for me in that it has shown me how much I have failed in relation to building a relationship with my son, Chandler. So I am going to pass on some of Peter’s advice to you, since I’m between the answers on this, as I wrote about yesterday. I hope you will find it as helpful as I have, and not just for kids, but for all our relationships, because we’re talking today about listening.
The more I get to know Chandler, the more I realize my first two children must have been humoring me an awful lot — letting me think I was in charge when most of the time, they were.
“I too wished at some point that my sons would tap into my wisdom,” Peter wrote, “then I found out the wisdom they needed was that I keep my mouth shut and listen to what they were saying. After they were finished speaking I would encourage them, or confirm them in what they said even when I did not necessarily agree, and they might have been extremely offensive to me in what they said. My responses were few, and when I did speak, I tried to be encouraging, because I tried to observe something that they were doing well and then compliment them.
“For years as a parent I gave free unsolicited — and mostly unwanted — advice, and I had to break that bad habit. It is still a work in progress. I also began to tell my sons that I loved them very frequently. That, and mostly listening and only speaking compliments. This wisdom they appreciate more than anything else I have ever told them.
“I have followed this now for about five years. Occasionally I can now offer a pearl of wisdom. I offer a prayer, and think about it, before I say it. Often decide not to. Funny, the less I say and the more I listen, the more my parental stock has gone up.”
I’m sure this approach extends more than to just children. Learn to listen; and when you do speak, speak encouragement. Good advice for any relationship.