He opens my ear that I may hear.

Let’s start with a few true or false questions for parents.

True or False:
When my children come to me with a problem, I listen briefly, then I either make a joke or change the topic—anything to take their minds off of it.

True or False:
When my children share their problems with me, I tell them not to worry; everything will turn out all right.

True or False:
When my children tell me they are troubled, I immediately try to give some helpful suggestions.

If you answered, “True” to any of these questions, you may need to work on your listening skills.   Studies have shown that responses like the ones above tend to be unhelpful in the long run.   They may offer quick solutions, but they can also keep your children from opening up about what is truly bothering them.

One of the most important jobs any parent faces is to become a loving, careful listener.   Listening tells your children that they are important to you.   It tells them that you care for them.   Listening carefully also helps you to suspend your own agenda and judgments for a bit so that you can put yourself in their shoes.

Just as he did for the prophet in today’s first reading, God is always ready to open our ears, both to him and to the children he has given us.   At the same time, he is asking us to work with him so that we can become good listeners. Here are a few steps to consider:

Pay attention to your children.   Look for signs in their conversations and their actions that may point to a struggle they are having.

When you sense that your child is stressed out, upset, withdrawn, or more aggressive, ask them what is wrong, and then listen.   Avoid quick responses.   Don’t interrupt, redirect, or try to smooth things over.

Try your best to hear both what they are saying and what they are trying to say.   Pay attention also to what they are not saying.

If your children get the sense that you are really listening, they will feel comfortable talking more.   And as they talk, they’re more likely to find answers on their own—answers that bring them closer to the Lord.

word among us