Most dads want their kids to be better listeners. But many of us aren’t modeling that very well. What we sow, mostly talking and not listening, is often what we reap. We can find common ground with our children and get them to connect with us. We just have to get a few things right at the start.
Question: Are you more of a talker or a listener?
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” —Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)
How to listen openly to your child [Video 3:03]
The above strategy is pulled from The Connected Father digital course—full of videos, podcasts, eBooks, tip sheets and bonus resources to help you be the dad who leads with no regrets. Snag the full course at The Connected Father.
Becoming great at asking questions is like turning on a faucet. After that, we need to learn how to “catch” the flow of answers in our “buckets” (our brains).
Listening openly becomes the natural next step for fathers who have primed the pump with great questions. But, if you’re like me – you listen just long enough to formulate a reply and then you interrupt with your “answer” (even if they didn’t ask you a question!).
We can develop the skill of listening openly.
Listening openly has three components:
1) Hearing their whole answer. If I could have a dime for every time I interrupted my wife or kids while they were talking, I’d be writing this from my own private island.
2) Putting their comment through my brain. I can process information pretty quickly. But, I still need to take a moment and let their comment “sink in”.
3) Ensuring I heard them by repeating or clarifying. “So, if I heard you right, you want to punch your brother right in the face?”
If I met your kids, and could ask them this question: “Is your dad more of a talker or listener?”, how would they answer me?
A Connected Father can listen without bias (suspending judgment, at least long enough to fully understand); and listen to understand, instead of just listening to respond.
My friend Dave is a great listener. One time, we were at lunch, and I was griping about a situation at work. During my rant, he lifted up the top page of his notepad, and wrote something down underneath it. After I finished, still fuming, I said, “OK genius, what’d you write down under there?”
He said, “Well, it seems we have pride with a small ‘p’ and Pride with a capital ‘P’.” He listened not only to my selfish, prideful comments; but, he listened to the heart behind them.
If you want to be a Connected Father, commit yourself to listening well to your kids – it’s a great way to build common ground and get them to open up.