During dinner this week, after a nice day I received the following manner of fact quote from one of my kids: “You don’t care about my stories.” (Said child will hereafter referred to as Child A) .
TRANSLATION: “You don’t care about me and don’t love me.” Let me tell you this phrase made me quite angry and hurt (on the inside—it took effort to keep it on the inside too!). Now, I sort of felt like I had done a good bit of giving for these kids to make this trip happen. I was offended. But then the Lord started to quicken 1 Cor 13 in my spirit.
1 Cor 13:1 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but I have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”
MONTY TRANSLATION: Though I’ve given up a lot of stuff for my kids, but haven’t made them feel loved, I’m wasting my time!
You see, Child A wasn’t “feelin’ the love” because of my handling of this specific situation. (I highly recommend you pick up Gary Smalley’s book on the Five Love Languages—it can change your life!) I realized Child A was doing what kids do—communicating like a child, and I was trying to force that kid to communicate as an adult! (I was also violating some other Growing Families International/Childwise parenting principles). It hit me I’d been doing it for some time. Thus the preventable response. No matter how much I gave up to make this trip happen…if these kids don’t “feel the love,” its all been for naught—just NOISE!
I also realized something else. Have you ever thought much about how teens tend to be quiet and not want to tell us about the issues of their hearts? And have you further wondered or noticed how younger kids will tell you EVERY thought that pops into their dear little heads about 3 nanoseconds after it arrives? Why such a drastic change in their communication habits from the younger years to the teens?
I think we parents have unwittingly played a large role in this transformation. Stick with me on this…
When Child B is young and they spill every detail about everything and more than you thought they could even process, we’ve dutifully listened and attempted to share in their excitement of the discovery they made. Eventually, this becomes more and more difficult to do. In my experience, kids love the attention and sharing in their excitement. But, I’ve allowed things and checklists and events to push this important process aside. What happens? I ask them to shorten their stories, or minimize their discovery of the simple because its “old hat” to us. By doing this on a routine basis, I run the very real risk of actually TRAINING my children NOT TO TALK TO ME. By the time they hit their teens—unfortunately for all of us—they’ve become too well trained. My Child A got the message which was quoted above so often (even though we all know it’s a false message) that now Child A has clammed up. How sad! Especially because the teen years are so full of danger and challenges!
The bottom line is this: no matter how hard it is (and it is hard), I MUST do my best at listening to my children and sharing their excitement about their discoveries because it is this very act that TRAINS their hearts to come to me and share with me. This is one of the things I want most with my children. I must NOT FAINT in well doing now, because it will pay off in the future. So no matter how much I think they should “feel the love” I’ve got to make sure they do, in ways which matter TO THEM!