Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Professional counselors get paid fairly well to simply sit and listen. A few head nods and “yes” comments and the hour is up. And you know what? People love it! As clients often say, “my husband never listens to me” or “I wish my parents would listen to me.” People need someone to listen to them.
Listening is much more than just not talking. As a matter of fact, listening requires more effort than talking. James 1:19 reads, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.” Most of us are so quick to speak (we think we have the answers), very slow to listen (it can seem like a waste of time) and consequently, we anger easily. Like someone said, “it’s no coincidence that God gave us two ears and one mouth.”
Show your teenager you love them by listening. Give them eye contact, don't interrupt, and let them finish their thoughts. You probably have the correct answer to their problem, especially if it’s a younger member of the family. After all, you’ve already lived through most of the issues before. But remember, the gold nugget isn't in the answer. The nugget lies in the process of the conversation. It's the process that conveys our love for the person we’re with.
In our work at Shelterwood, we’re constantly reminding ourselves to listen. Just sit and listen. Yes, there’s a time for answers. But not without listening first. Research supports that most of us save the significant issues in our conversations for the end of the interaction. It’s as though we’re waiting to see if the other person is willing to wait for the nugget before we give away our innermost fears, doubts and questions. And don' freak out if you hear some pretty heavy stuff. Remember, adolescence is “figure it out” time. Issues about faith, sexuality, and relationships are all normal struggle areas. Better to discuss it with you than get the answers from the media.
So, pray before every conversation with your teenager. “Lord, give me the strength and patience to be a good listener. Help me to be less concerned with the solution and more focused on the relationship.”
Then, hopefully, we’ll be the recipients of the greatest prize of all: the golden nugget of a vital relationship with our teenagers.©