If you don't listen now, they won't talk later
I'm not sure who the above quote can be attributed to. Google did not give me an answer. But, I know that I've heard it before. It means that parents need to listen to their children when they are young, or the children are more likely to not talk when they are older.
This quote has been going through my mind the past day or so and yesterday I had several opportunities to put it into practice.
Let me start by saying that sometimes having children in different age groups can be very hard, especially when one of the age groups is the "toddler" stage. Toddlers are so much work and take so much time and make soooo much noise that I freely admit to craving the quiet times when they are sleeping or gone. When the quiet finally settles over the house, you had better not be the one to break it!
Unfortunately, that means that often, my older kids don't get as much attention. They can't be heard and understood over the constant noise of the littles, and when it's finally quiet enough for them to talk, they are being told "Shush!" When do they ever get a chance to talk? And when they do talk, do I really listen?
Yesterday I had a couple of moments when I was given the choice, to embrace the quiet and command "No talking!" or to embrace the opportunity to connect with my older children, who are reaching teen-hood all too soon.
The first came in the afternoon as I was waiting for my dinner to bake. Jim had taken the boys out back to play baseball. I had a very intriguing book to read and was anxious to spend a few minutes engrossed in my book.
Katelyn came up, sat down on the couch and asked some of-the-wall question, as she's prone to do. She's been sick and is extremely bored right now, so she's anxious for company. My first thought was Another nonsense question. Be quiet so I can read my book. But, that quote up there wafted through my mind again. Okay, put down the book and focus on your daughter.
So I did. What followed was a great "teaching-time" moment where I answered her off-the-wall question, which led to another question, which led to some deep questions, which led to me sharing my heart and feelings about desirable qualities to look for in a husband and the importance of respecting your husband.
I said "I know you're only eleven and marriage seems so far off, but you're only eight years younger than Chyra."
Katelyn listened intently, nodded her head, and even made some excellent points. It was funny to me and even makes my heart warm now because she said something that I remember saying when I would talk to my mom about marriage: "I would rather have my husband home after 40 hours than working so hard making so much money that we would never get to see him." A girl after my own heart!
Later last night a second opportunity came. I had put the littles to bed and was looking forward to settling on my bed with my Bible reading and my book. I hadn't even gotten started when Tyler came into my room, looking for attention.
"I want to sit on your bed."
"Okay, but don't make noise because I want to read my Bible."
He settled on the bed next to me, but it was less than two minutes later that Katelyn appeared and crawled up next to him.
Somehow they started talking about the wedding again and my phone was produced to look at the pictures that I had taken. All the while I tried to read my Bible.
Then one of them asked if I had any pictures of my and Daddy's wedding day. Inside I was thinking Would you all just be quiet so I can read my Bible? Go away! But that thought up there went through my mind again. So I got up and pulled out the wedding album and they began to look at the pictures.
Eventually I put the Bible down as I answered questions about people in the pictures and things that happened during the ceremony. At one point Tyler asked what we were doing in a picture which featured us standing before our pastor, facing each other, hand joined. I said "That's where Daddy and I vowed to stay married forever, or till death do us part."
Katelyn said "Yeah, and you've done it!" Tyler said "Yeah, so far!" And I said "And we will continue to do it."
And I thought, This is important. These kids need to see the promise that Jim and I made, the vows that we spoke that days. Because they are the result of that promise and what Jim and I do with those vows will affect them for the rest of their lives. They need to see this to help direct them when it's time for them to choose spouses and make vows.
Eventually the kids did get silly and I shooed them out of my room to their beds. But I'm so thankful that I took time to talk to them and to listen to them and to share.
Because the other side of that quote coin comes to me:
If I don't talk to them now, they won't listen to me later