When my oldest son was a child he began to stutter. It was the oddest thing. He stuttered for several weeks before I decided it was a problem serious enough for me to look into. When I found out the probable causes, I was horrified. I found out I was the cause.
The information I researched said that one of the causes of children stuttering was parents who were impatient or uninterested when their children are trying to communicate with them. The findings said…often, when kids try to talk with their parents and mom, dad or both are inattentive; their child will become nervous and uncertain. When this happens, some children will not only stutter in their conversations with their parents, but in all of their communication.
I knew it was me. I knew it because prior to that, I had been very impatient with my son while listening to him trying to communicate a story, an explanation about something that happened in school, or something he had seen on television.
Right then, just after I beat myself up for being such a lousy dad; I determined I would never treat my son, or for that matter any other child, that way again.
The next time my son had something to tell me I dropped everything I was doing to listen to him. I focused my full attention on him. I didn’t act impatient with his stuttering or his tale. I didn’t roll my eyes when it didn’t come out just right. I didn’t become bored with the content of his information. I just listened intently.
The next time he had a story to tell me, I did the same thing. For the next several days I made it a point to listen to my son no matter what he wanted to talk to me about. If he had as much as a sentence to share with me at dinner, I put my fork down and paid close attention to him. If he wanted to talk to me when I was working, I put my work down and gave him my undivided attention.
If he interrupted me while I was talking to someone from the church, I excused myself from the conversation, knelt down, and listened to my son. If I was on the phone, I cut my call short and attended to my son.
Within two weeks his stuttering stopped and never returned.
Since that stuttering lesson, I determined to listen to my children whenever they had something to tell me. I even started helping other parents with their kids. If a parent was talking to me and his or her son or daughter interrupted I would say, “Go ahead. Talk to your child. I can wait.”
With the passing of Mother’s Day and the approaching of Father’s Day, I cannot help but think of the responsibility we parents have. Children are so fragile. I see parents so set on teaching their kids to not interrupt, or to be obedient, or to be respectful, for their own parental image in front of others; they forget how fragile and how valuable their children are.
Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers (or parents), do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”
That is exactly what I was doing to my son. I was exasperating him by not giving him my undivided attention. I was valuing the task I was doing, or the person I was talking to more than my own child.
What (who) is the most valuable possession in your life? That what (who) we will give our time to.