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Listen

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

This was chapter two of my book. As I read it today, I realized, I might need to read it again. Currently I am raising my second daughter through these teenage years, and recently haven't taken my own advise. Listening is vital to building relationship. When we do not listen and I mean really listen, we miss what is actually being communicated. I currently use a counseling communication tool with many of my students at school that helps train anyone how to listen. At the end of this post, I will give you instruction on how it works.

Listen

One of the hardest things for adults to understand is that teenagers need to be heard. Many adults do not think they need to listen because they believe they know better. This might be true, but as teenagers move to adulthood and begin developing their own beliefs, they look to those they can trust. Trust comes when a person feels accepted. Acceptance is felt when a person listens to you and doesn’t cut you off or put you down for what you say. Many times as adults we just do not see what our teens are saying as important. We ignore their stories, hurts, beliefs, and much much more. They feel disrespected and begin to not trust the adults they have always trusted. It is vital that they get a voice. This does not mean the voice gets its way, but it does allow it to speak.


Teens who voice their opinions, beliefs, fears, decisions, or stories are not being disrespectful by having a different point of view. They are searching. Searching for answers to situations which were once black and white, but now are grey. They want you to listen so they can process what their future choice should be. When you take the time to do this, it makes a world of difference to them. They feel like you respect them, that they are important, and you can be trusted.


Many adults feel as though when a teen gets their chance to speak that this is allowing them to dominate or dictate the adult. This is not true. Many times my daughter comes into me with an idea to see if I am willing to change my stance on particular ideas. When I listen to her ideas, and acknowledge the idea is a possibility, but not necessarily the best option, she feels as though I have done her a service. I have given her an opportunity that most adults have not given her. There is a fine line between giving her power and allowing her to run the show.


Teenagers also need to understand that most of the time adults know things that they cannot comprehend. It is not that they are not intelligent, but they have not fully developed the wisdom that those who are older can contribute to their thinking. I had a good friend tell me once that when a parent says because I said so, this does not mean what a teenager might perceive it to mean. Teenagers see this as a cop out for adults, but really it is an adult saying you are not ready for the why that you have asked. If I try to explain it to you now it will not make sense to you because you cannot see the big picture, or your maturity to understand the complex is not completely developed. It does mean that later in life you will understand, but right now you just need to trust me.


This is a battle adults will fight with teens till the end of the age. If you really think about it, my friend said, “God does this with adults at times.” She was absolutely right. Sometimes I think God shows us a little bit of him and his dilemmas with the human race when we have children. What is interesting is one of the things God is so good at doing is listening to us. I mean He is really really good at this. So if he listens intently to us and our struggles, the least we can do, is listen to our children when they are struggling through life. Even if we think, oh the drama or I don’t have time for this. Just think if our heavenly Father gave us this kind of treatment how hard it would be for us to grow. Your child needs you to listen, advise and pray. Pray that you can make it through this rough time, and pray that they can make decisions for their life that will help them walk closer to God even through our mistakes of trying to raise them.


My minister this week spoke about this amazing gift God has.... the ability to forgive. He spoke about his love for us, and how God isn’t against us, but for us. When thinking about God with this attitude, I went back to read the fall in Genesis chapter 3. As I read it with the idea that God is not getting revenge on Adam and Eve and their sin, I came to a very different conclusion about the attitude of God in this situation. See when God tries to find Adam and Eve in the Garden after their choice to eat the fruit, the first thing he does is listen. He listens to their reason. He listens to their blaming, and their excuses. After he listens he lets them know what their choice has created for them, that the serpent will move on his belly and be crushed by the woman, which is really a natural consequence of the action made because after woman realizes her natural consequence she will never trust the serpent again to lead her.


The woman is told she will have painful childbirth, and her desire will be for her husband. This is another natural consequence because once they leave the security of the garden, and move to the desert the man will have to work much harder for survival, and she will long for the relationship they once had in the garden.


The man was told he will have to work, and he will die, which is also the natural consequence of the choice he made. God then makes the man and woman clothes because he loves and cares for them. He makes the choice to banish them from the garden to keep them from eating from the Tree of Life.


I always thought this was so unfair, but looking at it from a loving Father stand point, I see that God is really protecting them from living in the world they have chosen for eternity. Who really wants to live on this earth with sin forever! We are all hoping for what we once had … The Garden. A place where there is no pain, no suffering, no tears, no struggle. Since our teenagers are moving from innocence to knowledge just as Adam and Eve did, they are going to need people in their lives who can protect them, but allow them to fail and try again. To do this, we must listen.


Counseling communication tool instructions.

Give an object any object to the first person to talk. The person with the object speaks, while the other person listens. Once the person with the object is finished, the person who was listening must take the object from the other person and repeat what they said verbatim. Once they have had the chance to say what they heard, the repeat person will give the object back to the first person who spoke. They will let the person know if what they repeated was correct. If it is correct, then the repeat person may take the object back and respond to the first person who talked. This continues back and forth until an agreement or understanding has happened. This exercise trains you to listen, really listen to what someone is saying to you. A mediator who can ref the conversation is also very helpful to be sure you follow the rules and do not talk out of turn. Try it the next time you talk to your teenager. It can change your life!

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