By Jay Younts
It is hard to be a good listener.
It is much easier to speak first, thinking you will listen later. But often, speaking first means losing the opportunity to listen at all.
The pressing issues of everyday life are obstacles to good, everyday listening. You can become so focused on your own problems that you fail to be a good listener. This sort of preoccupations leads to what I call parentspeak.
Moms can be guilty of parentspeak. Parentspeak is talking without listening. Anytime you speak without listening-really listening-you engage in parentspeak. You may think you have good reasons for not listening. You are tired. You have important business decisions to consider. There may be a problem in your marriage relationship. You are trying to think how you will get all the yard work, housework or homeschooling done. You might be worried about the bills that are piling up. You desperately need to relax. Or maybe you are just preoccupied with the computer or the telephone. You don’t mean to ignore your children-you are just thinking about other things. However, if your words are going to please God and benefit your children, you must first be a good listener.
Did I say that good listening is hard? It is. It requires sacrificial love and self-denial to give your child the time and attention to listen closely.
Consider parentspeak for a moment. Do you use it? Does it creep into your everyday talk? Does it, perhaps, dominate your everyday talk? As you reflect on your own speech patterns, don’t look only for the absentminded mumbling of the previous example. Parentspeak can take other forms as well. It can be clear and direct language. Parentspeak may also sound like this: “Sarah, tonight before you go to bed, I want you to finish cleaning your room, do the dishes, finish your homework, write your grandmother and don’t listen to any music until all that is finished. Is that clear?”
You may be protesting, “What is wrong with this? Clear, directive speech is necessary for running a good household!”
I agree, but still it may qualify as parentspeak. If this type of speaking forms the majority of your communication with your children, then it is parentspeak. Recall our working definition for parentspeak. Parentspeak is talking without listening. What does the Bible say about this type of speaking?
“He who answers before listening-that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13)
To be continued...