The 2 Ears, 1 Brain Rule
Do you ever wonder why God gave you two ears? It couldn’t be for the sake of ornamentation, since many folks only wear one earring these days. Many have figured that the duality of the appendage lends itself to multi-tasking, thus carrying on a conversation and listening with one ear, while speaking on the phone and listening to that person with the other ear. Interestingly, God only gave us one brain, so that theory does not seem to hold a lot of water.
Is there anybody in there?
Is there anything more heartbreaking than seeing a little child trying to get her/his mom’s attention, only to have her give a quick “uh-huh” in response while scanning the shelves for a can of peas? Is there anything sadder than a little child attempting to talk to dad about her/his day only to have him wave her off while he is talking on the cell phone?
Don’t make Jesus angry!
Many of us have call waiting on our telephones; I am here to break it to you that our children do not come equipped thusly. Our children are constantly “on”, and they do not “hold” very well. Granted, there are times when you will have to ask them to wait for a moment, but in reality, these times are few and far between. More often than not the musings of a child take the backseat to whatever activity we are currently engaged in. Shame on us! Are we busier than Jesus was? Did He not have one or two things on His plate? While He was preaching the good news, raising people from the dead, teaching His disciples, keeping a busy public speaking schedule at the local synagogue or mountaintop, healing a few incurables, and single-handedly cleaning out a temple, it appears that He still made the time to interact with children...and they weren’t even His! (1)
The disciples, ever ready to open mouths and insert feet, rebuked the parents who brought their children to Jesus. Yet instead of simply waving them off, and making a few blessing hand gestures, Jesus was upset! The NIV refers to Jesus as being indignant, the KJV calls Him displeased; this is the only recorded time that the Bible refers to Jesus as being displeased or indignant. Roget's Interactive Thesaurus defines “indignant” as an adjective conveying the concept of anger. It suggests alternates such as “boiling, furious, heated, and livid“. Jesus then proceeded to rebuke his disciples but turned to the children and took them in His arms.
Seriously, don’t infuriate Him!
What would Jesus’ reaction be when He sees you interacting with your child(ren)? When He sees you at the dinner table eating and talking on the phone at the same time, when He sees you at the grocery store, where the price of a can of peas is more important than your son’s latest Spiderman story (the one he made up himself!), when He hears you tell your child, who is belting out her favorite song, to be quiet so you can watch the news, when He sees you type away on the computer keyboard while your child is desperately seeking you attention, etc.? What would Jesus feel? Would He be livid? Furious? Or do you think He would look at you and say “well done, good and faithful servant?” The latter is doubtful. Deuteronomy 6:7 exhorts parents to talk to their children about God anytime and anyplace. This involves having a close relationship with your child(ren). If you don’t listen to them when they talk to you, at some point the communication will break down to the extent that they may not listen to you anymore either. This gets us back to the start; God gave us two ears but only one mouth. There is a reason for that.
So...what are you saying?
If you truly desire to learn how to listen to your child, here are some practical ideas:
- Don’t second-guess what your child will say and don’t finish her/his sentences for her/him. You don’t like it when people do it to you, so odds are your child will not relish it either.
- Face your child and look her/him in the eyes. This speaks loudly that whatever it is they communicate is important to you.
- Don’t watch TV when they’re talking, and don’t keep reading or hacking away on the keyboard. You don’t like it when your spouse does it, and your kids don’t like it when you do it.
- Encourage your child(ren) by asking questions such as “what else did she say”, “what did he wear”, “what did you do after that”?
- When your child is in the middle of a conversation with you and the phone rings, finish the conversation and return the call later. When a grown-up interrupts your conversation with your child, at a store for instance, please ask the person to wait for a moment while your child finishes her/his thought.
- And never, ever, even once, glance at your watch and sigh while your child is talking to you.
Other than your relationship with God first, and your spouse second, there is nothing more important in this universe than your interaction with your child!
(1) Mark 10:13-16