How often do you take what you hear at face value, excepting it for truth? Do you find yourself perhaps doing a little reading between the lines? Before you answer consider if you are actively listening, fully in the moment; or are you distracted your mind wandering in numerous other directions?
Being an active listener is something that most of us have to learn. Our minds are so cluttered with the business of daily living that we are often times not completely “tuned in” when others are speaking to us. This is especially true with our youth, when they want to talk, you need to be listening. You need to be fully engaged at that very moment. It’s not just about what is being said, but how it is being said; are they looking you in the eyes when they are speaking? What is their body language telling you? Are you only being feed that which they think you want to hear? Are their important missing pieces that need to be flushed out? Yea, I know so much for parents to consider. Can’t we just have a normal conversation with our teens, one in which we just talk. Sometimes yes, absolutely – other times the consequences of what appears to be a simple conversation could result in something more serious. That is why regardless you need to give them your complete undivided attention.
When young people become involved with drugs/alcohol on any level of consumption it’s a deal changer. I have heard many parents (more than I care to think about) be very unconcerned when their teens are “experimenting with drugs/alcohol”. Experimenting are you kidding me??? Do you know how many experiments turn out badly, even deadly? We are not talking about a controlled environment here. Their experimentation is not controlled in any way. There isn’t anyone standing by their side in case it blows up. If you are minimizing their use of pot or alcohol or whatever it is then shame on you! Seriously, why would you do that in the first place? Is it because ‘hey I did it and I turned out okay”, or maybe you don’t consider it enough of a threat to their life at this point to be worried about it. Well, your wakeup call is here folks! It’s your responsibility as a parent to let them know how unacceptable their behavior is and to do everything you can to contain it and curtail it. Knowledge is power, but only if it is put into action.
If your child is involved in the drug/alcohol culture already then be prepared to be lied to, over and over again. You think not? Ahh, you would be wrong. That’s where you need to be listening, really listening. Watching… their friends (have they changed recently); their personal habits; their family involvement or lack thereof; their grades; their overall attitude. Ok, so you’re thinking that seems like a great deal of extra work, hmmmm shouldn’t you be doing that anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I remember missing very important details when my daughter was in the throes of drug use. We all do the best we can, but do it! It’s that important. Every moment is a teachable moment… use each one you get and live what you teach. They are certainly watching you.
Pray for our youth… everywhere… everyday!