One way to gauge the effectiveness of your parenting is by the questions your children ask you. You want to be asked good questions. This is an important goal of parenting that is often overlooked.
When you need help with a problem, do you look for answers from any random person? Someone next to you at the gas pump, perhaps? The answer is obvious. You ask the people whom you trust and respect.
Young children ask parents seemingly endless questions. They do this, in part, because parents are the center of their world. There is no one that means more to them than mom and dad. Asking questions is a sign of respect and appreciation. Be thankful. As a parent, you want to keep the questions coming. Often parents get exasperated with the questions of young children. This exasperation will eventually diminish the questions (bringing short-term relief), it will also result in a diminished relationship with older children and teenagers.
The active, aggressive listener of Proverbs 18:15 will recognize the types of questions that are asked—and the questions that are not asked. If your teenagers are primarily asking logistical questions, such as can I have the car, or when is dinner, this should alert you that the important questions are going to someone else. Your goal is to have your kids ask you about the hard things in life. But like you, your older children and teenagers will reserve those questions for the people whom they respect and trust.
Suppose a friend from church calls and asks you for advice on some relational issue. You immediately tell her that she must not have been listening to the sermons because the pastor just spoke on that very issue. You go on to say that if she were not always late to church she might be in better shape to actually listen to the sermon. You suggest several books for her to read and you finish by telling her you hope you have been helpful. Over time you wonder why she has never called back for more “help.”
This example illustrates the danger warned about in Proverbs 18:2; a fool delights to air his own opinions.
Monologues do not build relationships, only frustrations.
You goal is to create a relational climate in which your teenagers want to come to you. Listen carefully to your children and observe the things that they struggle with. Take an interest in the things they are interested in. Ask them genuine questions about their interests. Patience is key here. If you have not been a good listener, you can become one. Even if you do, it may take time for older children and teenagers to begin to seek you out. Pursue your teenagers not so much for what they have done, but for who they are – your children given to you by God.
As you practice this biblical model of aggressively listening, the questions will come, once again.