SIX DEADLY D’S…hang around in most very life, haunting and challenging each of us in many ways. But they are especially daunting to young people trying to maneuver into adulthood. Dads need to be especially conscious of these in their children’s lives. So, what might these be?
Discouragement…not receiving affirmation, fearing failure
Disillusionment…all their dreams seem to be fading or out of reach
Despair…everything and everyone seem to be working against them
Distrust…people or institutions in their lives don’t prove to be reliable
Depression…a sense of unworthiness or loneliness
Drugs…a means of escape from all of the above
These lead eventually to—DEFEAT!
Dads, these are why your art of listening is so critical. First, you’ve got to be present. I know, I made this mistake too often at the wrong times. When you are being told things, are you hearing and understanding the underlying issues? Another one of my past father failures. If not, then it is virtually impossible to assist them in the proper manner.
Listening is an art that can be mastered. Here are ten simple ways to begin to listen well. There are more but these will help you get started being an effective listener. I guess we could start with this. “Sit down, shut up and listen up!” Just saying!
- Focus and concentrate
- Make eye contact when possible
- Listen for what might be unsaid
- Observe body language
- Ask pertinent questions as opposed to offering advice
- Comment on what you hear at the proper time
- Repeat what you hear from them if appropriate (did I hear that correctly?)
- Use scripture where necessary in offering counsel
- Learn to rejoice in what they are telling you if appropriate
- Likewise, be empathetic when necessary
Maybe they need to hear- “Thanks for sharing this with your dad; I love you” -more often. O, I forgot to share this—your wife is very likely a much better listener than you will ever be; so grab some pointers from her. I bet she’ll love you for doing that.
And above all, do not try to ‘fix it’, especially until they are through sharing. You may find that all they were telling you was just to be heard. With your younger kids, you need to develop the skill of listening to their little issues, because when they grow up and share big issues, you will find that even the little issues were big to them at the time.
Where do you start if maybe your listening skills are less than effective? I would recommend going to Proverbs and ‘google’ the word ‘listen’. Or, go to a good concordance. See how many verses address this issue. By learning to listen to God through his word, you will gain better listening skills for your family. Here is but one example. 19.20— “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”
Listening is one of the highest forms of love. By listening to God, you’re showing him how much you love him. The same goes for your wife and children. You may record a failing score in other parts of your fatherhood but you’ll more than make up for it by being a good listener. And remember what Frank Tyger said;
“Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.”