Learning to Listen to My Littles

My oldest child begins talking the moment she wakes up in the morning and continues until she falls asleep at night.

She is extroverted, outgoing, unreserved, loud, and a myriad of other words that might describe how much she loves to talk and more importantly, to be heard. It can be exhausting to try to listen to everything she has to say. There have been a few moments in time, especially as she gets older, that I’ve realized how important it can be to give her my undivided attention.

The first instance happened when she said, “Mom, I need to talk to you about something.”

There was just something about the way she said it that had me giving her extra attention.

It certainly wasn’t the first time she’d uttered that phrase, but prior to then, her “need” to tell me something had always been, in my mind, pretty trivial. However, this time she wanted to know why her little sister gets to have extra sisters (referring to our adopted child’s biological sisters). She was also concerned if those sisters were more important than the ones in our family. This led to a wonderful discussion that I hope helped her to feel more secure in her role as both a sister and as a friend.

Learning to Listen to My Littles

Another instance just happened last night. She was working on going to sleep when suddenly she asked, “Why did I get that bump on my hand?” She was referring to a wart that has been gone for months, and I sort of wanted to brush off the question, assuming she was just stalling bedtime.

But next, she said, “None of my friends wanted to touch me when I had that. Except one friend because she’s had warts before. So she was nice to me when I had mine and I’m nice to her when she has hers.” As I said, her wart disappeared months ago, so who knows how long this has been bothering for! Once again, we had a good discussion about the topic.

I was glad that I listened and hadn’t brushed off her original question.

Now, I will say there are also times when I think we’re about to have a serious discussion, but it turns out to be pure silliness, which is also fine. One time in the car she started asking me about our extended family, about who was dead and who was still alive. I really thought we were getting to a serious conversation, so I asked her why she was asking.

As it turns out, we had just passed the Pool & Spa Warehouse off Collins Road, and she wanted to know how big of a pool we needed to buy in order for our whole family to be able to come over and swim. She requests purchasing a pool every time we pass there and apparently she was just trying at a different angle that time.

As my children continue to grow and learn, I am continuing to learn how much I need to listen to the words they’re speaking.

I’m very invested in developing their minds and their hearts, and their words are a reflection of those.

Because of that, I will attempt to keep learning how to listen carefully to my children. When something seems especially important to them, I will do my best to pull them aside so they can freely share with me.

That being said, there will be no judgment from me if you accidentally brush your child off now and then.

Let’s face it, we’re all human, and it can be hard to pick out what’s important from the endless chatter. We are busy.  There’s only so much time in the day, and occasionally we have to give ourselves some grace.

So for the times when you realize you may have failed to listen to what your child wanted to tell you – my advice is to just assume that she probably wanted to let you know for the millionth time (that day) how much she’d like to send a text message to JoJo Siwa. And then maybe check in with her in the morning with, “I think there was something you wanted to talk to me about yesterday. Could we talk about that now?” Whether it was trivial or important, it probably mattered to your child.

They will most likely appreciate you giving it your full attention, even if it’s a little late.


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Marla is a lifelong Cedar Rapidian who met her husband, Shawn, at the local Dairy Queen in 2005 and married him in 2009. They have three beautiful and spunky daughters (8, 5, 3) who keep them on their toes. Marla is a stay at home mom who spends very little time at home. She loves children and has spent the last 8 years doing in-home daycare and spent 5 years doing foster care. Marla is an adoptive parent, a homeschooling mom, and a very active member of her local church. In whatever free time she can find, Marla enjoys reading a good love story or watching a chick flick.