My child, listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
What you learn from them will crown you with grace
and be a chain of honor around your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
For over ten years, I worked with teenagers—first as a full-time minister, then as a volunteer when I went into business. Often finding myself in the role of sounding board, kids would tell me about their lives. Parent problems was the number one thing most of these adolescents faced.
As a man in his twenties, I figured I had heard it all:
“My dad is too busy for me.”
“My mother doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in the world.”
“My parents hate my friends.”
On and on they would go.
But then there was Rick. Although he was only sixteen when I met him, I knew he was a little brighter than his peers. Not that Rick got better grades than his buddies, it was just that he seemed to have more sense about him. Some would say Rick had a superior EQ. Talking to him was more like talking to a friend my age.
One afternoon we were sitting at the Howard Johnson’s on Sheridan Road, sipping Cokes.
“I don’t ever want you to tell my parents I told you this,” he said with a wry smile. “But most of the time they’re right.” (I didn’t need to say anything.)
“In fact,” Rick continued, “the older I get, the smarter my dad gets!” Then he added, “But, again, please don’t tell him I told you this. I never want him to know.” His grin said enough.
Here’s the bottom line: as a dad, you are smarter and wiser than your children. You have experienced more of life, and you can see things they cannot. So, how can your wisdom be transferred to the next generation? The first word of the Scripture above says it all: your children must learn how to “listen” to you.
Watching people who are hearing impaired has shown me how to listen. These folks have learned that they must compensate for not being able to hear in a way our children must compensate for their own “hearing impairment” with us . . . they must listen with their eyes. If they’re not watching you, they’re not listening. And if your children are not listening, how will your experience and wisdom ever do any good in their lives?
You have heard this so many times, but perhaps this time it will make more sense than ever. If you don’t spend one-on-one, face-to-face intentional time with your child, they may never listen to you. If your conversation with them is always on the run or in a crowded room, they will never pick it up.
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,” is deeply weakened when it’s not said by a father who dares to take the time from his busy schedule to say these words straight into his child’s eyes.
Even if they can move around their iPhones faster than you do, you are smarter than your kids. You do have much wisdom to share. Take confidence in this truth, then find ways to communicate it, intentionally, lovingly, in a normal tone of voice, and without distractions.
Yours is one lucky kid . . . to have a dad like you. And you don’t need to tell him; he already knows it.