Updated: Oct 2
I was raised in an era where we were taught, "Children are better seen and not heard."
As we grew older and had children of our own, the practice was continued, "Children are better seen and not heard." I didn't think much of it, since this was standard protocol for my culture and my generation. However, as various situations accompanied the years that went by, I found myself in therapy. There I learned that I was harboring unresolved resentment. It affected my ability to make sound decisions and my behavior became erratic. As an adult woman, I was known for having wit, a smart-mouth, and a quick temper. I was loud, opinionated, and critical. I had an answer for everything and was determined to be heard at all cost. I was harboring unresolved resentment for years of not speaking up for myself, for feeling like what I had to say didn’t matter. I wasn't assertive. I was aggressive.
Please, don't read this wrong...I am not blaming my parents or anyone else for that matter for anything. I accept full responsibility for my life and my actions. We are blessed when we can learn from our experiences and help others by sharing the wisdom gained from them. One of the many lessons I learned is the importance of our voice.
The Bible teaches that there is power in our mouths. We can speak life and positivity, or we can speak death and destruction. Whichever we choose effects us and those around us. That same power can empower our children, family, and friends by allowing them the opportunity to be heard. Give them your ear and listen. This simple act is an act of empowerment. Sure, it will take effort to listen to some conversations as our interests maybe a little different. But, please do not let that stop you. Consider how many people we’ve faked interest in their conversations in hopes of pleasing them, to gain favor,or fit in. Surely our children, family, and friends deserve better.
So, go ahead and offer your children the gift of being present and hearing them. Engage in a conversation with them without going into a lecture. I am not advocating that parents and children be friends. I think it's vital that our youth learn boundaries and respect and that starts with defining roles at home. What I am advocating for is that our children have a platform in their life that allows them to speak and be heard.
Listening is an opportunity to learn what's going on in their world. Be slow to speak, slow to criticize, and quick to listen. Some negative behaviors maybe an unexpressed cry to be heard. Consider these behaviors: Does your child often withdraw? Does he or she prefer spending more time at a friends' house than they do at home? Are they often moody, easily angered, or consistently displaying what most of us call "attitude?" Take the time and look at your child and ask them about what’s going on in their lives and show genuine interest in their response. If they don't respond or respond with that adolescent attitude, we all know and love, don't react, just ask again later and keep asking daily until they know you're available whenever they need to talk...about anything. Be sure to not nag or pry, Just simply ask. Consider how good it feels when we spend time with people that offer us a listening ear. Now, let’s offer that to our children and watch the change in your relationships and in their behavior. Children should be seen and heard. We all should.