"" Writer's Wanderings: To Listen Is To Love

Monday, August 27, 2018

To Listen Is To Love

[One of my favorite stories from 2007. Being a good listener never gets old.]

The first duty of love is to listen. ~ Paul Tillich

             A grandparent’s ears were made for listening but not all of us are good listeners. My husband tires of hearing me tell the story of his lesson in listening. We only had three boys at the time and they were all preschoolers. I longed for adult conversation by the end of the day and eagerly awaited Bob’s arrival home from work when we could sit down to dinner and talk.
Unfortunately, Bob was often preoccupied at dinner with his own thoughts about the new business venture he was beginning. He feigned a listening ear, nodding his head on occasion and murmuring “Uh-huh” when he felt it appropriate. I was not oblivious to the lack of attentive listening and decided it was time to act.
The next night he arrived home to find his wife and children all dressed up to go out to dinner. I met the surprised look on his face with, “So, where are we going? You didn’t tell me.”
“I didn’t say we were going out to dinner tonight,” he replied.
“Sure you did,” I countered. “We were talking at dinner yesterday and I asked you if you wanted to go out to dinner tonight and you said, ‘Uh-huh.’ Then I asked if you wanted to bring the boys along, and you said, ‘Uh-huh.’ So, where are we going?”
We all piled in the car, drove to a restaurant, and ordered our meals. Half way through the main course, Bob said, “I didn’t really tell you we were going out to dinner tonight, did I?”
I smiled. “No but you better put your ‘uh-huhs’ in the right places when you’re listening to me from now on.”
The lesson worked. Bob has become a great listener and his grandchildren truly love him for it.
Listening attentively to your grandchildren makes them feel loved, appreciated, and encourages them in their development at any age. Young children need to have an audience to practice their language skills as they learn to talk. Listening to them can be difficult at times as their brains work faster than they are capable of speaking. By paying attention to what they are trying to say, we help them use vocabulary, put together sentences, formulate thoughts, and sequence events.
Older children are developing opinions, impressions of the world around them, and have a desire to express their ideas. They need to dream dreams and know that someone cares that they do. Their dreams may sound outlandish, impossible, but so did many others who had dreams at a young age and saw them fulfilled as adults. Without an encouraging listening ear, many of those dreams would fade.

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