The Life Changing Magic of Listening to Children

Sometimes this little log home is just loud! If you were here today, oh my dear friend, your eardrums may feel like mine - tired. Living in 1400 sq feet with six children is a joy, please don't miss understand, but there's a reason our neighbors are several acres away. My children do everything with gusto. Most days I love it.  

Yes, I want to share with you the joy of listening to children (not tidying up - though that is a lovely book). You see I have several high-intensity personalities at my house, myself included. Perhaps you have strong personalities or even special needs in your home. The deepest gift I think anyone can give to another soul is to truly listen. To children, it is their very life-breath to have another soul listen to their words. 

These past several weeks, I realized anew the life-changing nature of true listening, especially to my loudest children. I have several that are louder than others. These high-need young ones will ask me for more if I give them every last drop of what I have. More. Louder. Always.

And so I listened. Of course, these loud, intense small people have incredible things to say. I'm not kidding; I actually took notes. My son had fresh ideas for our sustainable farm we will build. He designed a kitchen pantry to feed the large volumes of people we will serve real food. Ceiling heights and ways to keep the cat out of the garage added to the list. The ideas and depth of thinking are shocking for one small person. 

And oh, dear friend, now I know how God feels about me sometimes.

That's me. Wild ideas and loving intensity that in my childhood earned me labels - strong-willed, difficult, abrasive, and annoying just to name a few. Negative words spoken in childhood can cut long after the breath that spoke them is gone. 

Part of the reason I gave everything away was so that I could hear my children. Without the the tsunami of cleaning, without the overwhelm, without the 558 huge bags of useful items clamoring for my attention, I can hear the sweet voices of my beloved children. I am keenly aware their words will echo in my mind long after they've grown. Looking deep into their enormous dark eyes tonight, I know I made the right choice in giving it all away.  

IMG_0906 (1).JPG

Hence, this is what I offer to you. Perhaps you are a parent to a special needs child, one that takes every last ounce of blessed patience and then asks for more. Maybe your child has physical distinctions that make them unique targets for rude strangers. Or maybe your sweet beloved looks normal on the outside but processes information totally different than the rest of the world. It's hard. This world, filled with supposed tolerance, is sadly still cold and often hostile, especially to children. If I could tell my previous self anything, as a mom of a high-intensity likely-labeled kid, I would say:

Listen to your children and not to the rest of the world. I understand labels are useful in their right place, but that place should not be not burned into the heart of a precious, God-loved child.  

Listen to their unique voice, and help them shape and use it for good. This may cause sparks. Don't worry. Highly intelligent people often argue loud and love fiercely. Ask me how I know! 

Listen to their quirky ideas, it may be God's inspiration to you. So often, I hear Him in their words. Maybe it's why Christ said let the little children come, so that we adults could hear what we needed from God's heart. 

Listen to their heart, train them to use those wild emotions for concrete change in this world for good. I know that their strong emotions, once self-controlled, will fuel their God-given purpose for incredible good that this world desperately needs. Self-control is the hard and necessary part that I get to model. 

We must teach children to listen with the strength of a firm and loving parent (no playing in busy roads allowed). Yet, we must take the space created by curating our homes and use it to listen to our children. 

That listening is worth far more than any item that we could buy those we love. 

 

Blessings for you and your precious children,

Elizabeth

PS This post and all other blog posts are written with at least one child, sometimes two, on my lap and the rest singing or fighting in the background.