As I serve students and interact with them and parents, there is always one point of contention in their efforts to parenting: They want to understand their child, so that life for both parent and child can be bearable. This becomes even more evident as the child hits his or her teenage years. Then bam! The parents are hit with the swift reality that they can no longer relate to their child in a way in which they would like. They begin asking each other how to understand, to no avail – the other parents are just as lost. This brings disheartening despair upon them, and relationships are greatly impacted.
Understanding our children is one of the most important things that we should learn as a parent. It helps us guide and nurture our children as they grow and mature. Here are a few pointers that I think will help us to better understand our children.
Listening is a big part of understanding. If we don’t listen, we won’t understand. We should start this early, even when it’s just rambling. Try not to interrupt. Let them complete their thoughts. This lets them know that we care, and gives us insight into all aspects of the child’s life.
Put ourselves in their shoes. This one is hard. Think back to your younger years. Your child may have a completely different outlook on life than you had, but children can relate better than most adults think.
Give kids our undivided attention. I struggle with this one. Put the phone down, and turn the TV off. Cut out all distractions. This makes it easier for us to focus, and children will know how important they are. Pay close attention to their questions. They will oftentimes give us insight that they don't even know they’re revealing.
This is a start, but it is by no means a complete guide to understanding. We must crawl before we walk, and walk before we run.
Our Heavenly Father understands. He knows what we are going through, and He cares for us. If we will pray for His help in these areas, He will send help. We must be receptive to His help. Pray for guidance and for your child daily. Delight in your children as the Heavenly Father delights in His children. If you would like more information about how God's understanding changed my story, feel free to contact me. I would love to hear from you.