Children are to be seen and not heard…. My parents were of the old school, and so consequently they subscribed to that very philosophy. My dad told me more than once that I was “talking when I should be listening.” That’s not bad counsel… But, I learned this past week that that limits should be placed on such a philosophy of communication.
If you listen carefully to what your child is saying to you, you can learn a lot. This past week I observed a related and equally valuable principle. It goes like this: If you listen to what your child says to your friends, you can learn things you never knew before.
I took my soon to be 30-year-old son on a trip to my childhood homes. He met and interacted with friends I have known in some cases for 50 years. I marveled at his ability to discuss a wide variety of subjects intelligently and graciously with my peers. I don’t think he conveyed an arrogant or condescending spirit. He simply enjoyed engaging people, who are his father’s age, in meaningful conversation. And, there was an added bonus…
My friends are excellent conversationalists. They asked Randall good questions. And, he answered candidly. As the dialogues continued over a period of days, I learned more and more about this son of mine that I held when he was only minutes old in 1989. His responses to my friends were thoughtful and honest. And sometime over the 5 days we had together, I learned a valuable principle. Children should be heard as well as seen… The task of a parent is to listen as well as speak. As a father of three adult sons, I will need to learn that principle over and over and still over again. If I don’t learn that lesson well, I will be the one who misses out. Do you have adult children? Let them speak, but more importantly choose to listen.