Thursday, March 13, 2014

Children Should be Seen AND Heard

In the past children were not encouraged or even allowed to interject themselves into conversations between adults. It was expected that children would sit at the meal table in silence; eating everything on their plates (or being reminded of all the starving orphans...). Children weren't expected to speak without being given permission and they wouldn't dream of interrupting a conversation between adults.

Now while I'm not arguing against children having good great manners or against teaching children to have respect for their elders and those in authority, I am saying we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss our children. I'm saying we owe it to our children to make them feel validated; to let them know that their thoughts and opinions matter.

As a mother of four I have lived this countless times, but one of the best examples I've experienced that gets to the heart of what I'm saying didn't even come from me...

Raising our children in a small town had its ups and downs...good points as well as not-so-good ones. But one definite advantage was the fact that our church family was small and close-knit. Our four children were loved, talked to and listened to by everyone--including our preacher, Dave...

Sunday night church service consisted of a small gathering of members from our congregation to study a book of the Bible. This particular Sunday night was to be the first in a series on the book of James. Dave began the study by giving a brief introduction to the book. He started off by saying, "The book of James was written by James, the brother of Jesus."

Before he could say one more word, our three year-old daughter, Emma, who had been laying in the pew playing with her toys, sat straight up, looked right at Dave and said, "Well, Dave, I didn't know Jesus had a brother." Dave, not missing a beat, said, "Well Emma, he did. In fact he had four brothers and some sisters, too." Dave then picked up where he left off as if nothing out of the ordinary had taken place. And Emma, who was satisfied with the answer given her, returned to playing (and obviously listening) quietly.

Some of you might be thinking things like 'I'd be so embarrassed' or 'I would have made sure she knew not to ever do that again'. Not me and not anyone in the church building that night. No, to everyone there, Emma was simply a little girl who had a question that deserved an answer. She was not made to feel as if she had said or done anything wrong. She was not scowled at or thought to be rude or naughty. In fact, nearly everyone took the time to compliment her on being a good listener and wanting to know more.

My point is this...children are eager to please us and eager to learn from us. So why, as a parent, would you want to do anything to squelch that? Why would you want to ever give your child the impression that their thoughts and words did not matter or were not wanted? Oh I know there are times the sheer number of words that come from a preschooler each day are immeasurable and you feel your ears simply can't take much more. But trust me, all too soon those years are gone--replaced by teenagers and young adults who won't be nearly as eager to talk to you...UNLESS they've had plenty of practice and a captive and eager audience prior to reaching that stage in life.

So my challenge to you is this: Take the time each day to talk to, listen to and enjoy conversing with your children.


Momma D