As a parent I have made three discoveries that have had great influence upon me. They are:
1. The only time my children will talk to me is when I am with them.
2. Whatever my children want to talk about is important.
3. I do a greater amount of good when I listen to my children than when I talk to them.
It is my belief and my experience that by implementing these three discoveries I can have more successful home evenings. Let me explain.
My first discovery may not at first seem profound, but I suggest that it is perhaps the greatest single thing I have learned as a parent. I have found too that if I will not only be with my child, but will do something with him that he enjoys, he will usually talk to me. Many parents wonder why they don’t communicate with their children. It is most likely because they are never pleasantly, relaxingly, and leisurely with their children. Those who are too busy for this are indeed too busy.
Yes, I have to be with my children. I mean really there, in mind as well as in body.
In regard to my second discovery, one would think that talking about cars, music, sports, or any number of other seemingly unimportant subjects could not be called deep communication. However, I have learned that in talking with my children about such things, something happens between us and we feel closer. When we wait for discussions of profound subjects, we wait for something that may never happen unless we rather constantly communicate about the unprofound.
And I need to talk about anything my children want to talk about in our home evenings. When we are talking, I always know that we are doing something important. Through such talk, opportunity often comes to teach soul to soul about the most meaningful subjects.
My third discovery has come about as I have gradually learned that my children don’t want my ready-made, time-proven, and wise answers. At least they do not want such answers immediately. To them, being able to ask their questions and to talk about their problems is more important than receiving my answers. Usually when they get through talking, if I have listened long and well enough, they really don’t need my answer. They have already found their answer.
And when I listen, and don’t get upset, we have home evenings that are two-way understanding and not one-way preaching or moralizing.
These three things, coupled with fervent prayer to the Lord for guidance, can do much to guarantee success in this greatest of all responsibilities—that of parenthood.