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