Listen to the Children


The biggest stumbling block to truly listening, especially to children, is our self-important business
Henri Nouwen SJ, Jesuit author, university prof,  complained to God about all the students who came to his office, interrupting his writing. God’s answer?

“I just gave you that book to write to keep you busy in between appointments;

 your real work is all those interruptions.”

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No matter what our occupation, we tend to think that our work, our agenda is important. It is almost in our nature to let ambition and drive push other people to the fringes of our awareness while we toil in an isolated bubble of self-importance. There are many methods that can shake us out of this selfish obsession but for me as a mother, it was my children.

Mum, mum! Come see what I made!”

“Can you read me a book?”

“I tried and tried but it just won’t stay together.”

“Mum, can we talk?”

“Would you help me edit this essay? It’s due tomorrow.”

“Let’s do something together.”

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Of course sometimes children need to learn patience, learn to wait but I discovered that usually their needs were immediate. Even if a problem seemed minor to me, it was monumental to one of my little people. A block tower which took 30 minutes to build and 30 seconds for a toddler to destroy was equal to an adult’s business deal that took 3 weeks to set up and a day to fall apart. Brushing off their concerns was often a temptation.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Don’t over react.”

“Not now. I am busy.”

“Can’t you see that what I am doing is more important?”

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To respond to my kids or in the case of any adult, to respond to interruptions to work, requires surrendering to the duty of the moment. To respond to an interruption often means we must put our agenda to the side for a moment and embrace the agenda of another person, especially if it is a mere child,

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29 thoughts on “Listen to the Children

  1. So true, but the balance can be like a seesaw. Constantly teetering toward chaos and back again. The moments together are so fleeting and precious, but the work of life still needs to get done, too. You seem to have found a great balance. I’m sure I have a lot to learn from you. Looking forward to reading more. Warmly, Brenda

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  2. That’s all true.
    Children also have a great sensitivity to come and “pull out” us from the hardships, even if we “want to be busy” with our problems…
    And whenever we are really With them not just Next to them, we have a clearer viewpoint, more realistic priorities, love, energy, smile, and comfort…

    Thank you for posting it.

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  3. Great post even for this lady who doesn’t have any kids. 🙂 Don’t we just naturally hate interruptions even when we’re dealing with adults. God is teaching me to pay attention to what He is doing in the interruptions. People are to be my priority not projects. Thanks for the reminder!

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  4. I love your message here. It is so easy to get caught up with our busyness that we can forget how important it is to listen to our children at the moment that they need to be listened to.
    Taking time to really listen to our little ones reassures them that they are loved and valued.
    Wonderful post 🙂

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  5. Love that first quote!! I remember when my son was around 5 years old..I was teaching full-time and writing my thesis for my master’s…I’d set him up with a video in the bedroom upstairs…and every so often, he’d come downstairs…give me a hug and say, “I love you, Mommy!” Concentration shot…but it was my cue to stop, listen, and love on him! I certainly paid off for me…God is good!!

    Great post! I’m going to reblog this on: godssceneryandpromises

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  6. Reblogged this on godssceneryandpromises and commented:
    Love that first quote!! I remember when my son was around 5 years old..I was teaching full-time and writing my thesis for my master’s…I’d set him up with a video in the bedroom upstairs…and every so often, he’d come downstairs…give me a hug and say, “I love you, Mommy!” Concentration shot…but it was my cue to stop, listen, and love on him! I certainly paid off for me…God is good!!

    Like

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