You Have to Listen

It’s a noisy world out there… and most of us add to the din. We chatter on social media. We chatter on the phone. We chatter over email. 

Even as parents, we tend to do a lot of talking. There are all the things we tell our kids. The things we remind them about. The lessons we try to teach them. The books we read to them

But it’s worth remembering that ancient saying: Two ears… one mouth. 

We recently interviewed award-winning psychologist and bestselling author Dr. Stewart Friedman about his new book Parents Who Lead. Dr. Friedman has been researching and writing about leadership and work/life integration for over three decades, so we were curious if he had any advice for dads:

My favorite is about how much parents have to gain by learning how to listen, with leadership skill, to their children about what they really need. It’s often quite surprising to hear what’s actually on their minds and how you can be a better leader in your family when you know what’s in the hearts and minds of those precious people who look up to you. One father, who was keen to impress upon his son the value of curiosity and study, asked him what he was interested in learning. To his utter delight, his son said, “I want to learn to vacuum.” His son wanted to be useful; he wanted to contribute and have a purpose himself. You don’t really know, in other words, what’s inside until you pay attention, with dedication and compassion, like effective leaders do.

That little fellow is always trying to tell you things. Of course, it’s not always explicit. Sometimes “I want to learn to be useful” comes out as “I want to learn to vacuum.” Sometimes “I want to be a good friend” comes out as “Can you drive me to Bobby’s house?” Sometimes “I want to be a writer” comes out as an awkward kid who doesn’t want to watch sports with you. But they are always trying to tell you something. 

You’ll only hear it if you’re really listening.

P.S. This was originally sent on April 29, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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