Moms…Dads…Are You Listening? Are You REALLY Listening?

Does anyone else have the kid who likes to tell long, complicated stories about imaginary worlds? I’ve a got a few, and if I can be really transparent here for a minute, it’s a labor for me to listen intently and be truly invested.

Listening to the kids can be challenging for me at different times, like when I’m on the computer.

My kids have coined the term “robot voicing” for the monotone, robotic responses that they sometimes get when they ask me questions while I’m on the computer.

“Mom, can we bake cupcakes now?”

“Uh huh”

“Mom? Are you robot voicing? Are you sure you heard the question? We want to bake cupcakes. Are you okay with us doing that right now?”

They’ve invented this term because in the past they’ve asked permission to do something, thought they got the permission and were totally blindsided by my frustration.

“What are you doing?”

“We’re making cupcakes.”

“I’ve got company coming in 15 minutes, and the kitchen’s a mess!”

“But we asked you, and you said we could.”

“Oh….” Hence, the invention of the term “robot voicing.”

Obviously we can’t always give our kids our 100% focus, but whenever possible, we need to try. Because if we don’t make the effort to truly and fully listen to them when they’re young, they may not make the effort to truly and fully listen to us when they’re older.

Listening is a critical part of building relationship. Our kids deserve our full attention. They deserve our focus, which means we have to be willing to really understand what they’re trying to say, even if it seems illogical or naive or even flat out wrong.

Kids’ thinking skills need time and effort to develop, and in the meantime, it can be tempting to become annoyed or frustrated when they say things that seem foolish, but when we are visibly irritated by their thoughts, they will learn to stop sharing them with us. Kids don’t want to be judged or criticized anymore than we do, and when we ignore them or show signs of irritation (or worse – contempt) it can poke a hole in their delicate little souls.

But when we listen carefully to them and we try with all our might to understand them and then we offer gentle suggestions or redirection as needed, they feel valued, and their communication skills grow.

I can’t promise I’ll never robot voice, but I do try as often as possible to stop what I’m doing and give them my full attention.

How about you? When is listening a challenge for you?

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Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.