Today is the final day of our Love in Action posts. If you have seen a positive change in yourself and a good response from your husband and children, it is motivation enough to keep at it. Permanent change is gradual, so give yourself time to make these loving actions a habit.

Love in Action Day 14

Listen and Look

I cannot begin to estimate the importance of today’s actions.

Listen and Look.

Little children want to tell their parents about everything from the smallest find to the strangest dream.  Teens may go on and on about something the parents may feel is trivial, but which, to the teen, is a huge life issue. It is easy for the busy parent to glaze over and listen only with the face. You know the face. It’s the one that looks sort of like it’s listening, with a mouth that says “uh-huh, I see, that’s fine, oh, okay, that’s nice,” even when it isn’t nice.  It’s the one with the eyes that just aren’t quite there, and the brain that’s . . . well, you know the face. Let’s kiss that fakey-fake face a long overdue adios and start truly listening to our children before they stop confiding in us.

Listen Completely.

Listen with your eyes and your face and your smile.  Listen with your hands. Listen with your whole body.

When a child wants to show you something out of your view, get up! Get up and look and listen.

Don’t let your cell phone steal precious, irretrievable moments away from you and your child. Don’t let a book, computer, or television show take priority over your precious children who will never again be the age they are at this moment.  Don’t let your blog rank higher than your babies.  You can never get this moment back.

Faithfully listening to your children will show them that you care enough to make them a priority.  This will lead to a stronger bond and greater trust, which will lead to even more open communication.  As they grow older and more independent, you will have a clear glimpse of their hearts just by listening.

When you have consistent, open conversations with your children, many opportunities will arise to guide their hearts.  Use these opportunities.  Be careful, however, to resist the temptation to constantly play critic or handy-mom.  Children of any age who confide in you don’t want to have their grammar corrected, to be scolded or lectured, or to hear “you know what you should do” from a parent eager to fix. If such responses don’t turn off the conversation entirely, they will at least slow the flow.  Just listen. And feel free to follow up with questions that show you are interested.

Give your children your undivided attention whenever they need it. If you cannot listen immediately, give them a specific time when you can, and then follow through.

You will reap the benefits of truly listening for decades.  You will never, not once, regret the time you devote to your children.

Many things we need can wait.
The child cannot.

Now is the time his bones are formed,
his mind developed.
To him we cannot say tomorrow;
his name is today.

~Gabriela Mistral


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