He who answers before listening—
that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13
This current series of posts is about getting ready for the holidays. The holiday season presents a challenge for parents. For the next few weeks the world will talk about Christ’s advent, but it will be in code. You may have already noticed that code in the first sentence of this post. That’s right, translate holiday to mean the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The problem is that no one wants to offend anyone, so it is politically incorrect to say anything but Happy Holidays. As postmodernism further infiltrates our culture, the meaning of Advent gets pushed deeper into the recesses of antiquity. As the message that man needs a savior fades, the bustle of the season increases. (More about the code in future posts.) The holidays seldom resemble the celebration of saving grace. If your children are to have a biblical perspective on the “holiday season,” it will more than likely have to come from you, their parents.
One of the first casualties of the season is time. One event blurs into another. Shopping becomes an ordeal. The ones who are affected the most by this hectic schedule are the very ones the season is supposedly all about – the children. When things are busy, the questions and concerns of children often lose importance. They are admonished to be patient and quiet because there is a lot to do. So their questions blend into the background noise of the holiday rush. But this is one of the times when children need to heard. They get caught up in the rush as well. Yes, it is supposed to be all for them, but they probably don’t realize that.
Proverbs says that it is a shameful thing to answer before listening. But how easy it is to ignore a child’s questions amidst the hectic activities! At this emotional, demanding time of year, your children need to know that you hear them. Take conscious steps to make sure that your children do not become part of the holiday blur. Listen carefully to their questions and thoughts. They can be overwhelmed. This is true for older children as well. If you listen well, you will let your children know that your concern for them is constant. If you listen well your children will know that they can come to you when they are troubled. When you listen well you model the love of God to your children. You encourage them that they can always go to God. He hears no matter how busy things might be. Don’t let the season interfere with the basic functions of faithful parenting. Be a parent who listens well. Point your children to Christ. It is a simple thing, to listen first—but the consequences are profound.