This morning I dropped off my twins for their first day of high school. I can't wait to hear how it goes. But if I'm not careful, my curiosity or nervous excitement could curve my ability to listen.
Lately, I've researched the power of listening within the areas of family and discipleship. Jesus listened and his way of asking questions fostered spiritual progress.
Without reducing listening to a formula, I've jotted down some reminders as I approach the question:
"How was your first day?"
- Invite conversation without insisting. They are coming home to a safe harbor. There is no need to force them to talk and create waves.
- Listen without fixing or advising. If you feel led to advise just remember doing that in the moment can shut them down. I'm bad about reacting which short circuits the listening process.
- Feed them before you ask them. Emily's cookies alongside a well-lit house and soft music are great ways to welcome our kids home.
- Be an under-stimulated parent in the evening hours. In other words, try to be available and not pre-occupied with a project. Lingering with presence keeps the door open for a possible chat.
- If it's a terrible first day, stay calm. Embody being a safe harbor. Your peace in the midst of a crazy day is always a gift. Listen with a sturdy ear.
- Know when enough is enough. Sometimes too many questions can be stressful. This has been a blind-spot for me with one of our kids.
- Younger kids may need more specific questions. "How was your day?" may not be as effective as "Did you make a new friend today?"
- Circle back around before bedtime and offer an affirming word. Review your conversation from earlier and ask God to help you notice something that can translate into an affirmation.
Please let me know what you would add to this list.
Blessings as you listen to your child's first-day-of-school soul.