“Ears to hear and eyes to see – both are gifts from the Lord”
Whenever we ask our kids about circumstances and situations that we know they are wrestling with, we’ve found the most effective way to deal with it is through the eyes and ears of the Spirit. What’s the backstory? What’s their body language displaying that we need to observe? What they aren’t saying is often just as important as what they are saying.
The Holy Spirit prays through us in the Spirit because we often get in the way with our words. They are often inadequate or only tell part of the story. So, the same is true when we listen to our kids. Sometimes their words get in the way, wittingly or unwittingly. It’s our job to let their guarded speech to run its course – that’s when the words that really carry meaning follow.
When we do this, through open ended questions, allowing for uncomfortable pauses and silences, we get to the heart of the matter much faster.
Perhaps your child has a real desire to please you; the last thing they will want to admit to something they think will displease you. For example, my daughter might say “I got my test back – a bunch of people failed.” I know she didn’t do well and she’s attempting to cough it with a “it could have been worse.” The test mark isn’t what’s important here – it’s her self-worth and how I want to value her willingness to tell me anything, no matter how she thinks I will feel. Because in 10 years, it won’t be a poor test mark she might be coming to me with. It might be something much more important. So, I’m setting the ground rules now.
allowing for uncomfortable pauses and silences, we get to the heart of the matter much faster.
My response is not one of anger. I may be disappointed and may even tell her so, but I need to take her to a place where she has hope and expectation that next time will be better. Here I would share an experience in my own childhood when I knew I had failed or done poorly, and how disappointed I was in myself. How I knew I could have done better and how I was afraid to let my parents down. I’d speak of learning to be honest. Taking the consequences are second to knowing the better way, the love of my parents that will help me move on.
As I share my experiences and my own feelings, I’m teaching my daughter how to evaluate the circumstance herself – recognize triggers and disappointments. I share experiences with her that her dad – her hero still – survived bad tests, and remind her that parents are people who understand.
That means when she goes through her first break up or her first tough problem, she’ll be more likely to tell me, evaluate it herself in a mature fashion, and get through it that much faster.
There’s always a backstory – our children’s and ours – that the Holy Spirit will lead us to as we open our eyes and ears.
Father, teach me by your Spirit to have ears to hear and eyes to see – help me to embrace those gifts as a parent and allow my children to learn from my example.