Are You Listening?

When our daughter was three years old, she would place her dimpled hands on my face and turn it toward hers. She’d pull me into a nose-to-nose position, furrow her brow, and plead her case in a serious tone punctuated with little-girl drama. 

She captured my attention, but I struggled to stifle laughter. 

Last week, while babysitting with our daughter’s little one, I frequently heard, “Gigi, do you want to play with me?” Although I was in her sight, she wanted me on the floor, concentrating fully on her.

Another recent request came from our preteen granddaughter who shared a concern while riding in the car. I sensed that she wanted, not my advice or commentary, but simply a listening ear.  

Giving our attention to children is important. Doing so not only communicates love and concern but offers insight into young personalities and needs. This practice also creates close bonds and models courteous interactions.  

There are times, however, when eye-to-eye contact is impossible, and we simply cannot provide complete focus. In those moments, we can show ourselves some grace. After all, some days resemble a ride in the washing machine’s spin cycle!

Do any of the following events sound familiar? 

  • A much-desired blueberry yogurt cup splats onto the floor while the oven timer buzzes.  
  • A toddler wails because she prefers cheese in a bowl and “not on my plate.” 
  • Mom discovers a roll of toilet tissue submerged in toilet water. 
  • The cat throws up twice the same day the hamster dies. 
  • A teenager shrieks, “No one understands me!”
  • The sink threatens to overflow with salty water because an inquisitive child wonders if a starfish purchased at the beach last year could be revived. (Yes, that really happened!)

Would you agree that situations like these interfere with deep concentration? At times, safety concerns and hygiene needs—as well as emotional outbursts—jump to the top of the priority list as quickly as a wall becomes a canvas for permanent markers.   

Two-way communication with parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, and sitters is valuable. Tuning in (completely) when possible builds a reservoir of trust and compassion which abides when distractions arise. 

The million-dollar question is this: How can we offer rapt attention when the floor is sticky and the laundry pile topples into the hallway? What’s the best way to find wisdom for setting priorities and managing time so that we can listen well to our children?   

Prayer and Bible study provide two vital sources of God’s wisdom for believers. The following verses prompt me to ask for His guidance on a regular basis:

> Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 
· Jeremiah 29:12 ·

> Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. · Psalm 119:105 ·

> I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. · Psalm 32:8 ·

God hears the prayers of all who accept Jesus as Savior and become His children (1 Peter 3:12). He is never too busy to provide comfort and guidance. Perhaps posting the verses above and the FOCUS acronym below will remind us to pray, read God’s Word, and listen well when possible. 

> Listen with FOCUS.

> Fix your eyes on the child’s eyes.

> Open your heart to learn more about children as they talk and play.  

> Cuddle, cheer, or comment after listening—whichever is most appropriate.

> Unplug from your device and distracting thoughts. 

> Seek wisdom through Bible reading and prayer.  

As we care for precious young ones, let’s communicate with our compassionate heavenly Father whose ears are attuned to us, His children. Are there requests you want Him to hear today? Will you offer words of heart-felt praise or gratitude? Do you need wisdom to balance priorities as you interact with children? 

God is listening. 




in the Quiver

19 thoughts on “Are You Listening?

  1. Wonderful post Ms. Jeannie. I love your statement that sometimes we just need to listen. As a fella, I am hard-wired I think to be a “problem solver.” Come to me with a problem? My job is to fix it. As I am learning (with a long way to go yet), sometimes the best thing I can do is listen. Rather that telling a young person how to fix the problem, I try two other options more often. First, I try and model “thinking through the problem” for them. I ask probing questions that often leads them to reach their own conclusions. Other times, I invite them to pray about it with me. Joining our young people in prayer shows them we too need to rely on God’s guidance in our lives. I may come back around in a few days to see how they’re dealing with it’ and when I do, they are so much more receptive to me. Great post ma’am. God’s blessings.


    1. Thank you, J. D. You shared several ways to listen well. This one is my favorite: “Joining our young people in prayer shows them we too need to rely on God’s guidance in our lives.” That’s important.


  2. What a poignant message, and one we all need to hear in a loud and noisy world. Thank you for taking time to explore these thoughts about listening, Jeannie. I want to be a listener who FOCUSes on those around me! xo


    1. Robin, I need the FOCUS reminders, too. As you stated, in our world today, listening well is important. Listening to God through His Word reminds us to listen well to others.


  3. Jeannie, your article is useful for grandparents too! It’s a reminder to me to make every moment count when we are with our precious grandchildren.


  4. What a wonderful post on communication. I shared it on Twitter and Facebook. We need to cherish and take advantage of the time the Lord allows us to have with our children and grandchildren. Your advice is a great reminder. I rarely get to see my only grandchild (middle-school age) but can pray for her regularly.


  5. Wonderful post. Your words hit home especially when it comes to grandkids. Funny thing is, I’m the one who is always taking my oldest grandson and turning his face eye to eye as I gently guide him by the nose 🙂 I love the U in FOCUS… Unplug the device! Great advice to follow!


  6. Jeannie, I relate to your spin cycle days, your little one calling for dedicated on-the-floor time, and your heart. Most of all, I feel kinship with you through the guidance you provide from our Father. Love your FOCUS acrostic. Thank you for sharing from experience!


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