Love your middle schooler: become an epic listener!

Posted on · Posted in Communication, Parenting

It is important not to miss the struggles your middle schooler faces each day. She is beginning to function without immediate and constant parental supervision. New and sometimes dangerous influences enter his life. This is the scary part for parents. It is no secret that sex, drugs, pornography, bullying and even gambling have made inroads into middle schools. So what can you do to shepherd your middle school children without giving them a lie detector test each afternoon and attaching a body cam and GPS to them?

Here is one answer:

Become an epic listener!

Here are some practical ways to become an epic listener:

Fall in love with Proverbs 18:13,15

Listen for what is not said, in addition to what is said.

Realize that when you are in talk mode, listening skills are severely limited.

Anticipate the challenges your children face each day. Know their test schedules, what their friendships are like, what their personal fears and struggles are like. By doing this, you may not have to ask “is anything wrong” quite so much.

Let your middle schooler know frequently that you are thankful for him, whether he has had a good day or not. Not many people want to talk to someone who does not delight in them.

Carefully consider what you will say before opening your mouth. Will your words be truly helpful or just pointing out what is painfully obvious?
If your child knows that he will be heard, that he is understood, that he won’t be shut down, that he is respected and cared for, then he will be more likely to turn to you when he is caught in the tug-of-war that is middle school.

Trust God’s Spirit and deploy the skills of an epic listener!

Related resources:

Shepherding a Child's Heart


Everyday Talk

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.