Our children, with the exception of one, are very outgoing. They talk easily amongst their friends, family, and even with new acquaintances. Even the one who is seriously shy often opens up after a few moments. They like to talk about what they are learning and ask others what they are being taught. Our children will generally carry on a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere, on almost any topic. While we encourage our children to share, it’s also important they learn to listen.
One of the subtle arts of parenting is teaching our children proper communication. Yes, to share. But also to listen. Learning when to speak and when to remain silent can be a challenge. One some of us adults – myself included – are still learning to master. Perhaps we could all use a refresh in this area?
Learning to Listen First – Speaking is the easy part. Speaking well harder. Not talking and listening would be the biggest challenge. Listening not for an opening during which we can finally speak, but genuinely caring what the other person is saying and giving them the entirely of our mind. Oh, to perfect this step alone would be a dream.
Learning to Ask Questions – Often the best way to open doors of communication is not by telling, but by asking. By seeking information from others we encourage them to talk with us and share their lives.
Learning to Identify Those Who Will Receive – Let’s face it, not everyone wants the entirety of our plans for summer vacation. Nor should they. Some are not ready to hear our fantastic homeschool adventures. And not every possible debate needs our input. We need to weigh our words; identifying what should be shared when, and with whom. It’s not a matter of other people not caring, as much as our caring to give people what God has directed in His timing.
Learning When to Speak – Equally challenging is knowing when to finally open our mouths. May the Lord give us wisdom and grace!
Learning How to Speak – Sometimes sharing can be done with pride, a smug attitude, or a sense of “knowing all about it”. It can also be harsh or bitter. We want our words to be kind and humble always.
Learning When Someone Wants Help – Confession. I like to help. It’s taken me some time to realize not everyone who is expressing frustration or anxiety really wants constructive input. Sometimes they just need a listening ear. May we be that which is needed most.
Thank God for close friends who make communication easy. We are incredibly blessed by those few who allow us to vent when needed, either when upset or ridiculously excited. We never have to weigh my words, calculate if we’ve spoken too much, or worry about interrupting. And our friends know they can count on us, too!
When addressing the rest of the world, may we err on the side of caution more than not; choosing our few words with care and giving those we meet Jesus. It’s more important they see Him and hear of His good deeds than anything we could possibly offer. When in doubt, we follow this sage advice, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;…”
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
~ Proverbs 10:19
Your Turn!: This does beg the question… How much talking is too much?