In order to educate your children properly, you must listen to them. I mean, really listen to them. Of course, this goes for raising children in general too. Sometimes we think we know what they are going to say, so we only half listen to them. But this is not a good thing. How do you like it when someone is only half listening to you? Yeah, so let’s not do it to others, and especially not our children (or spouses for that matter–but that’s a subject for a Marriage Monday post ).
The other important part of the equation is to ask your children questions. Not yes or no questions either. You want to get your children talking to you. Since we live in Rural America, running errands is not a short trip, so on our way into town, I took to asking my children what was on their mind. Sometimes I got “nothin'” but then I’d probe a little by saying something like, you mean you are sitting there and not thinking anything, not about the chair or the sky or the game you want to play when you get home?
Here again, because I consistently did this with my children, it developed a habit to where, sometimes, they ask me what’s on my mind now. I literally stop and focus on what my mind is thinking on and tell them be it a stupid song that I cannot get out of my head, how the clouds look puffy and like a dog, or how tired I am because the storm woke me up in the middle of the night. By being open and honest with them, it instills openness and honesty and we relate.
As your children grow older, it is important to talk to them about what they like as far as activities, nutrition, and what they think their future may look like. Help them set up some healthy habits that will serve them well into adulthood. Talk with them about things you wish you had done when you were younger so that it isn’t sooo hard to do them now.
Talk to them about their bodies, nutrition, exercise, and spirituality. If you are concerned about an area of their life, see if you can find a way to relate to it yourself. I wish I had taken piano lessens when I was young, because . . . or some such thing. Or maybe there is an area that you are struggling with, maybe it is cooking or exercise; ask your children to work on it with you and help each other.
One year when Tiffany was a senior, I think, she wanted to do a “squat challenge”. I was trying to exercise more, so I agreed to do it with her because it’s generally easier when you have someone doing it with you. Yeah, I do not intend to ever do one of those kinds of challenges again! It was BRUTAL! But we did it together and encouraged each other.
Maybe you could look for a new recipe to make with your child, if he/she is interested in cooking. My boys learned to bake because they wanted dessert and I wasn’t making any at the end of the day (and I wasn’t spending money on desserts either). But I told them they were welcome to make some cookies or brownies or some such thing, if they wanted. Brian is quite the cookie baker. Sean prefers to clean up afterwards rather than make it.
But when your child talks to you, listen to them. Pay attention. Ask questions, if possible. Have them give you examples or tell you how they feel. Get close to your child and then pray about how to help them through whatever it is they are going through.
I hope this rambling helps encourage you today.
Until next time, God bless,