Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category


But You Never Told Me!

March 25, 2008

If you are anything like me, odds are there’s been a time (or 20) when you swore that “No one told me about the ___,” only to find out later that indeed you were told, but you hadn’t listened to the message. Why does this happen? There could be myriad reasons.

Perhaps the short video clip below will provide one of the reasons. NOTE: This video is safe to play at work or around your young children.

So what are some tips you can use to become a better listener, especially during International Listening Awareness Month (sponsored by the International Listening Association)?


Home for the Holidays: Listening to Your College Student

December 29, 2007

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a short strange trip it’s been. A few days after the end of finals at Auburn University, my son came home for the holidays. And now he’s already gone, not back to college, but to visit a college friend in another state … and then off to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl to watch our Auburn Tigers beat the Clemson Tigers. You see, our home has changed. He went to high school in Alabama, and then our family moved to Georgia in the mid-summer. So he literally knows no one where we now live, other than those he’s related to.

Though our family’s circumstances are likely different from most, I was wishing I knew more about what life would be like for that brief time he’s home. What are parents to do when their freshman comes home from college for the first few times? Here are some things to expect:

  1. Laundry. Lots of laundry. Though he has a free washer and dryer mere steps from his room in college, he still brought home three or four loads. (Some parents may be nice and do it for him, but I thought, “Why make things different than they were in high school? He did his own then, and he can do his own now.”)
  2. An alpha-dog revolt. Whoever the oldest child left at home is probably has assumed the position of the alpha dog, the one in charge of the younger siblings. When your student comes home, the proverbial applecart will be upset. At our house, it took almost a week for the pecking order to be re-established. (How’s that for a bunch of metaphors in one paragraph?!)
  3. Curfews are out the window. And that’s our choice. I chose not to enforce the curfew that he used to have. In college, there’s no such thing as a curfew.
  4. Late sleeping. That was a hard one for me. I forgot how late college students sleep when they have no classes to attend.
  5. A few groans. Even though he made some half-hearted attempts to avoid some family time, he always showed up where and when he was expected to, unless it was before 10:00 a.m.
  6. Little conversation. Or a lot, depending on the moment. It’s never what I plan on. (That’s no different than when he was in high school, at least.)
  7. A new tattoo. Your student will likely have made changes to his or her appearance, even if it’s not as permanent as a tattoo. (At least our son called home to let us know he wanted to get one ahead of time. I’m still not sure if he was asking for permission or simply informing us of his decision.)
  8. An empty wallet. Whose wallet was emptier? Probably his before the visit, and ours after!
  9. Spending time with friends. Most of the time he was home, he was connected – wirelessly – to his college friends via Facebook, text messages, Halo 3 and an occasional cell phone call. If he had friends in our new neighborhood, I’m confident he’d have been visiting with them in person, away from our house.
  10. Listening is different. You’ll now be listening to your student not as though he’s a child, as you probably were before he left, but as the adult he thinks he’s become. And guess what, he is now an adult. Scary thought, no?

10 Reasons Parents Must Become Effective Listeners

December 4, 2007

Several years ago, when I was Webmaster for the International Listening Association, a fellow board member proposed several “Top 10” lists about listening. In the coming weeks, I’ll share many of these with you. Today’s list comes from Daryl Vander Kooi, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus at Dordt College. He shares with us ten reasons parents must become effective listeners.

  1. TO CHECK BABY’S SENSES. Parents should watch the newborn for indicators of good sensing. Does the baby jump because of sudden loud noises? Does the baby attempt to turn its head toward mother’s voice? Does the baby begin to coo? Detecting potential problems early can help parents adjust and teach differently.
  2. TO GUIDE IN LEARNING LANGUAGE. Parents need to listen for the baby’s stages in speech development: cooing, babbling, sound imitation, connecting a number of sounds. Knowing the stage of development will assist parents in promoting speech development.
  3. TO CHECK BEHAVIOR. Parents need to see/hear/detect potential problems demonstrated in behaviors such as attention deficit disorder. In order to assist others, such as teachers and consultants in assessing student work and student habits, parents need to know what their child’s behavior is.
  4. TO BE AN EXAMPLE. Parents need to be an example of good listening skills and habits, if they wish to guide their children.
  5. TO ADDRESS A PROBLEM. Parents need to listen if they wish to detect a behavior problem and to address that problem. They should utilize all possible communicators: teachers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, school administrators, and even neighbors to understand the child’s behavior problem. They also need to listen to the child. Then solutions can begin to form.
  6. TO WATCH FOR DESTRUCTIVE ACTIONS. Good listening should get the parent in tune to potential destructive actions or beliefs. Listen for depression, for anger, for threatening speech toward others, for deliberate nastiness. Remember listening goes beyond hearing: watch actions, check bedrooms, etc.
  7. TO KNOW HOW TO RESPOND. Beyond the gifts and freedoms, privacy and independence, teens often signal what they believe they need from parents including rules and discipline, but the trick is to catch the signals. That calls for careful listening and reflecting.
  8. TO SWITCH FROM PARENT TO GUIDE. Parents need to switch from the parent (one who serves as a role model who also sets the rules and guidelines) to the guide (the one who serves as role model and mentor behind the scenes.) Parents need to listen when teens are struggling with major decisions: note the struggle, check for hints for assistance, supply options for decision- making, demonstrate advantages and disadvantages.
  9. TO MOVE TO ADULT RELATIONSHIPS. Eventually, parents shift from the overt parental role or mentor role to the role of adults in friendship. Parents need to listen for that shift. Parents need to acknowledge that shift in relationships and listen accordingly.
  10. TO ALWAYS BE A PARENT. Parents never stop being parents, but they can learn to shift their listening to fit those shifts in a child’s behavior and increasing maturity, while still maintaining that early listening in love: a listening for problems, for calls for help, for friendship, for adult discussion. While a parent for all time and a good listener at all times; parents remain parents.

— Daryl Vander Kooi, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, Dordt College