There are four things that we humans do with our language: read, write, speak, and listen. Most people would agree that listening is probably the most significant skill, but that is usually the weakest link in the world of communication.
I know of no other communication skill that illustrates respect more than listening, but there’s no skill that is more difficult for me.
Webster defines listening as “(1)paying attention to sound, and (2)hearing with thoughtful attention.” Kevin Murphy, president of CDK Management and Consulting Associates defines listening as”(1)the accurate perception of what is being communicated, (2)a process in perpetual motion, and (3)a two-way exchange in which both parties involved must always be receptive to the thoughts, ideas, and emotions of the other.”
Dr. Elton Mayo says that “One friend (possibly a parent?) who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider our problem, can change our whole outlook on the world.”
If kids don’t feel that their parents listen, they will turn to someone or something else, because people must feel listened to in order to deal with emotion and to feel worthy.
Most of the time when someone–including your children– express a concern, thought, or question–they don’t want your answer, solution, or advice. Rather, they want you to listen and to validate them as a “thinking” human being.
Being a good listener to your children does not mean that you do not provide parental guidance. It means that right from the beginning you begin to show your children that you value them as individuals with a unique and beautiful mind and a spirit. Listening to your child doesn’t mean that you will always agree with them, but it will give them a sense of respect. When you sincerely show respect to your children, they will show respect to you in return.