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October 13, 2021 2:00 am
Do you want your kids to open up more? Becky Harling shares what parents can do to help their children express themselves.
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So is our kids have gotten older and hasn't been easy at times because they've been letting us know some of the things we didn't do quite so right.
That's wonderful thing with your child comes to you as an adult and says dad I need to tell you I'm really grateful that they're coming that is now faster than I welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue relationships that matter most and Wilson Wilson. You can find this if we like today.com or on our family life. His family life today one of our sons came to me this is recently and he said mom I wish that you would've cared more about my heart than my behavior and I was a little bit defensive about your heart.
He said that when I would share like my struggles of what I was going through. Maybe I did something that was wrong.
You instantly centered on what I had done rather than why I had done and I thought about that night. I really pray about that, like part is that true, and I felt like yeah I did that I cared more about, I would listen to what he was saying and then I would have some objective reason why he shouldn't of done or maybe a biblical response of why God says he shouldn't do it instead of saying, tell me more. Why do you think that's going on or why do you think you're experiencing what's the pool what's behind the action. I wish I would've learned that in my earlier younger years, because I wish I could change that.
Yeah, you know all the things we need to learn is versus how do we get to our child's heart. Their behavior with their heart and so we've got some ways you help us do that today.
Becky Harling is a mom, a Y 14. Greg is for kids and author. Welcome to Philip today. Becky good every year. It is amazing to be with you guys.
I'm having so much fun here with you. So thank you for inviting me were happy to have you back.
You've written a book called how to listen so your kids will talk which you sit in the title a little bit like how to listen. It takes listening for my kids to talk because a lot of times we think. I want my kids to talk more as teenagers, and maybe it comes down to listening. So you really have some experience you've written some books but you also wrote another book about listening. So this is a passion of years as an because that's where God had to work in my heart. Often times you know you you write books or you speak messages to the deepest need in your own heart and so it's not that I'm an expert listener. It's that God had to change me and I had to learn how to listen. Most talk about that because you mentioned earlier this week how you grew up in sort of an abusive home talk about that little bit is that where you felt the need like were you not heard to Jeff to learn. I mean, it was a lot the rather hard story. I grew up in a pastor home.
My father was a pastor. He is also the president of a Bible college, but he was also very abusive, very authoritative and really sexually abuse me while I was growing up.
In addition to harsh behavior at home. A lot of hitting.
Okay, wait, wait, just that alone like it, but he's also your pastor yeah and so that's hard to get your head around that as an authoritative person from God, yes. That's not easy now. It wasn't easy and you know my mother had a lot of emotional issues and there were times where I would try to bring up that I was being hurt, but I was silenced in. It was like don't ever say that about your father again so I grew up with all these mixed messages.
Unfortunately, when you grow up in a home like that where your voice has been silent, silent, silent silence.
I mean you definitely wrestle with things like anxiety and depression but you can also come out like I minute raise my voice and it's gonna be.
Yeah it out sexually abuse is such a big topic to any of your listeners out there. If that's your story. I would really encourage you number one to find a good godly therapist and work it through. Don't just shove it under the carpet. I did that and then I would encourage you to find a godly mentor who will pray over you while you're going to therapy because I can be life-changing for you, but as a parent if you don't deal with all the emotional baggage from your own childhood. It's gonna come out in unhealthy ways with your own kids and for me when I talk too much because you never had a voice to know and yeah I really wanted to raise godly kids and somehow in my thinking is a mother, it was all about. Why just got a teaching this verse or I got it. Tell them this and this is what God wants for them. You know I was very hard on myself as a mother I think because I grew up in such a messed up home.
I really wanted to do it well, but sometimes even that meant I was talking too much. I remember the day where I was struggling with one of my teens and I remember the Lord speaking to me in a grocery store. He brought me back to that verse in Exodus where it says I will fight for you while you remain silent, and sometimes as parents we just have to get on her knees, sometimes we have to cry things out on their knees. There was a season where one of our kids. I really felt like she was walking away from the Lord and I took an entire month and prayed to the book of Ephesians for her. Every morning I pray to the entire book putting her name and knowing God brought her back miraculously, which I'm very thankful for, but when you grow up in a home where you don't have a voice.
You gotta deal with that. Are you going to talk too much in your own home and when did you figure that out. I mean, when you were a young mom, were you like looking back now, are you talking too much and there was a day or at a time really go more good news. You need this. Be quiet and listen.
You know it was a gradual journey for me.
Really, you know, it began one morning on my knees before the Lord, you know, when I had a really rough morning with one of the kids and I thought, I don't know what I'm doing. I just totally don't know what I'm doing. And the Lord, you know really spoke to me that morning and said I want to teach you how to listen, but continued along the way. I kind of had this relationship with the Lord, where I talked with him all day long. I wasn't like okay I'm just gonna do a few minutes with the Lord in the morning and say good night prayer. I needed God all day long said didn't know what I was doing and so you know, I'd be helping with homework, but underneath, I'd be having this conversation with the Lord, Lord, I need you to help me to listen right now is pulsing pray without ceasing, I think, is a young mom. I did the same thing because I didn't have these long periods of time by myself.
Learn to just no time bathroom. I think that's one of the sweet parts of God training as he always uses every stage of our lives and that was the stage. I learned to talk to God all day about LEM yes yes and to go back to your question, but when did I learn this. I think what I want to stress here is, it wasn't a one time learning know it was when I was sobbing on my knees before the Lord, because my little negotiator had negotiated all week and I didn't feel like I handled it well it was going before the Lord. When our son.
I realize that he had cheated on a test and really didn't need to cheat on any task as he was really smart. You know it was dealing with a teenager who I Nina was telling me I wasn't listening to her and even now with our adult kids, you name mentioned at the beginning of the show how your kids came to you and Steve and I sat down last year with our kids and said okay you're all here. Let's talk about it. What did we do right, but what do you wish we had done different because we want them to feel hurt his adult yeah right yeah and our kids are very verbal, so they are very thoughts. You know that these are some of the things you did wrong, you know what things that we did wrong as they said you know you mom you got too defensive about things and we would confront you and I know that about myself. You know when somebody confronts you, it's easy to kind of just kind of pull and then get defensive and try to defend yourself and talking too much for me.
For Steve it was like that.
You are so wrapped up in ministry that you didn't always show us what it looks like to be friends with unbelievers and have them in our home. You know, and we wish you had done that differently you know I mentioned this in the book we wanted to raise emotionally and spiritually healthy kids who could deal with their emotions, but neither Steve nor I grew up knowing how to deal with emotions in a healthy way. This is Dave and I part of it is our baggage that we carry because emotions and feelings they were never important, yes, and so they were never acknowledged and you get beyond that guy. Kate, let's not sit there and I did that as a mom to. I'm watching my kids now as adults with their kids and if their son or their daughter is upset and crying.
I felt uncomfortable in my kids did that and so I would say it's okay I would try to change the subject and like you can be fine or I would be very analytical and why it will be fine. Instead of letting them feel to be sad rushing them out of that book you talk about help them find their feelings to grow as this is a mother till you know and one of the ways you do this is giving them permission.
I grew up with messages all the time. Stop crying why crying me to know and I was like okay I don't want to get that to my kids.
So when they would cry. I would cry to him and Steve would say you cry to a worse but actually I think my way of offering Sadie, but I think the emotion where Steve and I struggled a lot was anger. There are so many messed up messages about anger in my home. I wasn't allowed to express anger. It was wrong, flat-out wrong, and less apparently probably right in Steve's home and he was raised on the mission field. He went to boarding school and had another hole.
Later there but he was taught all to like what we don't want to be angry. We don't be angry. So we have these kids and they get angry sometimes you know and it's like okay do you correct for being angry, and you find yourself as a mom or getting angry and what I learned about anger again. This was gradual along the way his anger is usually a secondary emotion and so there's usually something else going on. So what I like to tell parent is when your kid is throwing a fit on the floor. Poplars are they hungry are they tired are they feeling left out what's driving that anger but then gives him language to express their emotions because Jesus experienced and demoted so he expressed anger, he wept at Lazarus to he flipped tables in the temple, maybe send him Frank kids the tools to handle their emotions and we have to learn how to handle our own emotions.
Like what's driving this feeling and make our little grandson Noah when he was three. His sister scribbled all over his art project and Noah was so frustrated to. He flipped the chair over, and he told Ken Lindo pushed her away and his mom went off the deal with Kinley and I was talking to know, and I was like no, are you frustrated frustrated means that you're really upset that somebody wrecked your project, and he said he had Mimi IM and I think can you say frustrated and he said it and I wasn't sure he got it. Later in the day, get a friend over and the little sisters wrecked their car track that they were building all little boys 3 1/2 at the time came running out into the family room and they were dancing all over the floor think you're giving them words to his right leg we have to because your kids are going to grow up and they are going to feel anger.
They are going to feel hurt, they are going to feel sad they are to feel lonely and they need those words that's really good. I feel like and did that really well. You taught our boys how to feel good but I'm a rock in the kitchen many times in thinking I would be doing what you're doing right now when they were frustrated or angry, you do stop and go careless talk plywood what what he is like your feeling equestrian and a lot of times kids can't tell you what they're feeling, but as they get used to that word. And they grow up, then they can tell you what they're feeling. We actually talked about that before they would go to bed. We had a time where we talk about tell us the best thing that happened the way that we didn't have the hardest thing that happened today and then I said when you tell me the best thing I want you to put a feeling with it.
Oh that's good I love that can't be fine and if it is anger and we would teach that anchors a second motion what was behind anger and especially for boys being able to communicate and girls.
This is what I feel like to take that and put a word with it is important thing is just to take the time and I know when you're putting your kids to bed at night you're thinking. I just want to go to sleep yeah I've I have a few minutes to myself but to take that time because the dinner table. I think that's a great time.
Bedtime is great because they don't always want to go to sleep and they're willing to talk again.
Yeah, I wish I would've done more. I think it's really good because those are tools will take into their marriage and into their adulthood with friends, absolutely and with the things that we wish we had done better. I think we all have those feelings. You know there are so many times world be like.
I wish I had done the stiffener better. You know, apologizing to our adult kids has been hugely pivotal for us. You know, apologizing for look, I'm sorry I didn't handle that well and and apologizing to your kids as you're reading them in the home yeah no I mean I remember there was a night where our teenage daughter was really struggling in. She was walking through an eating disorder at the time and I got down on my knees next to her bed and I said sorry I feel like I modeled this for you. You know, because I was always on the next diet I was at least you know talking about labels and calories and whatnot. You know, but the power of an apology night that we gathered our adult kids around and said what we do wrong, what we do right.
They said we did right was you apologized a lot when you were wrong apparently stuck with that me know, but the power of an apology is huge and I want to talk for just a second to the listener out there who maybe doesn't have a great relationship right now with their team or their young adult, or their adult and I want you to know that an apology goes a long way and so you take the first step be on your knees in prayer first then go to that child that adult and say hey I want to apologize for and be very very specific XYZ and then say will you forgive me that the pivotal question that often opens the bridge to that child's heart is the same time, they may not be able to write initially it might take a while to gears you can expect it right you know if it's a deeper wound. You know who you forgive me, doesn't mean you have to right now right but are you willing to go on a journey I don't think it ever ends either one of our sons was saying like mom when I'm talking about when I'm feeling. I don't want you just to say well and have an answer to it. While this is happening and if he was expressing such sorrow I would say well there are good things that are happening to see how you fix it right to and so I really as I read your book I thought I'm getting it now I just need to sit in sitting with them and say I'm sorry that you're feeling like that and sometimes as a member you apologized so many times as you like. Just just listen to me, but I feel like were always learning and God is taking layers often continuing to instruct us, but even I feel like I was good at asking good questions, but one of the things you talking about in the book is you saying asked great questions, but don't interrogate yeah you gotta make questions fun because we've all been there, right. Your kid comes home from school.
What's the first question on the amount you have homework tonight answer that question. You know it would come to me question asking fun and it needs to be part of the life of the family knows who maybe at the dinner table. You're saying to your six-year-old son, you know, when did you feel like a superhero today or you know when were you kind to somebody in your class today or what you love most about your friends. You know what you think makes a good friend and really learning to ask them questions. I think that this is so important for two reasons. Number one gives you a window into your child's heart. You know, one of the games that we like to play is would you rather you know would you rather climb a tree you're going to hike, would you rather ride an ATV or go swimming like a TV sound like my so would you rather helps you understand your child's heart more in our member we are playing this at some of our grandkids and we were like, would you rather be smart or pretty in our little granddaughter jumped up and the doctor said, well, there you have it now gives you a window into their heart and their soul. You know, and so question asking is really important part of family life and thinking about when one of our sons was in high school, and sometimes I would ask questions to interrogate what was happening and it was out of my spine. Despite my own fear and so he was talking the dinner table. He said I did this thing with this one guy and here's what I say whole bad kid. He was always in trouble that smokes pot. I say because I'm fearful like oh no, are you becoming friends with that kid. Yeah, now I want you to know how I'm judging him and who I didn't stay far away and it was so funny. I think CJ with maybe 61st board and he never forget this you he says so mom he smokes pot once in a while. Does that make him a bad kid isn't bad because he smokes potů Like I'm so busted right now because she caught what I was doing I was interrogating I was judging and it was all out of my own fear yeah and so I think the words we speak as we listen to our kids and their sharing. I was manipulating the whole thing. Yes, you know what I mean. I do so when we ask questions we can't ask with an ulterior know that like I'm really trying to figure out what in the world you are doing at that party last night. It's like our kids would say will mom. Do you really want to know the answer.
Are you trying taking a fish for some month.
Everything here is, let's get them out in the open lucky that we have kids that will confront us.
Yeah, what about kids that don't write. You know that hold it inside okay and so this is a big topic because there are some kids that you really have difficulty getting them to talk and there's actually something called selective mutism where kids are very very shy and where they won't talk very much and there are some ideas in the book for that and one of them is give your child enough time to respond. You know if you're an extrovert like me you wanted dive in and help them in with the answer so you know your child gets in the backseat of the car after school and you're saying, how is your day and count to 10 or 15 and give them the space to answer that don't dive in and say well you know what I would me to instantly have to learn to give these kids the time to respond and they don't do well with like gunfire questions what happened and Jim what happened in math and it's like we are confusing me know you're getting me too many questions at one time so slow it down. One of the things and this is been a semen related to listening, but it's so not in my life that the Holy Spirit really had to do and change in me was I realized that I lived my life with a continual sense of inner hurry. I was always in a hurry like that I meet. And God is still working on me know and I remember this profound moment where I was reading my Bible one morning and I realized Jesus never turned to the disciples and said would you could hurry up and get your sandals on writing really that was profound to me and I thought I'm always telling these kids hurry up and get in the van variable running late for church. We got to go to school or to clubs or whatever and that sense of her. He does not encourage conversation and so I had to and I have to slow that down in my soul. I remember reading a book years ago by Jean Lesch and she was talking about her nine-year-old daughter. She could tell her daughter was feeling some angst and so she was just trying to probe it out like and she thought I had things to do, tell me what it was going on my place happening and so she's interrogating and her nine-year-old was quiet and then after a while she said mom I need you to lie down in your soul before I can talk to you and Jean in the book says. I realized I'm always in a rush. I'm always on to the next thing and that daughter felt it and I needed to just rest and sit with her before she would open up her soul to me that good silk that you know several even in the season of life there several times a day where I feel that similar inner inks like oh I'm in a hurry. I'm in a hurry and I literally will pause and say okay why am I feeling rushed right now and I invite Jesus into that moment you say Lord Jesus calm my soul, and the inner inks I feel right now. It is slow down and be able to listen and be present in this moment is good. You know that I was safe for me. I don't know if I represent most men, but I think it's easier to be in a hurry and easier to be rushed, than to be intimate with my son that is so it's like I want to listen. I want to hear his heart but I really don't because if I do, it's going to be intimate and it's scary.
I'm just being honest to the next task. I'll go to my office and pick up my phone and do whatever you know listening, so your child will talk. Part of me as I would rather not because I don't know what you know where that's going to go and yet I would also say to a parent listening. This is the most important thing you'll do today is in such a way that your child will open up and it may be intimate, and it may be scary and I may not go the way you want, but it is the best thing you'll do today though all these other things as important as they are there.
Probably not as important as being the dad or mom, your son or daughter is really longing for you to be has a lot to do with saying this on this daughter matter so much that I would listen, probably talk. I think one of the things I've learned over the years is the before I offer any input in my conversations with my kids. I should probably say about three times, only more and really do a good job of listening and drawing them out. My first impulse is often to provide the wisdom or fix the problem as opposed to drawing them out and letting them talk of listening will and will so the been talking today with Becky Harling about how to listen so your kids will talk to the title of Becky's book to book were making available this week to family life today listeners. Those of you who are regular listeners and want to help us expand the outreach of family life today. Help us provide practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families all around the world every day through the outreach of this program.
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Again, if you can make a donation today would love to send you Becky Harling's book how to listen so your kids will talk deepen your connection and strengthen their confidence. You can make a donation among the family life today.com or you can call to donate 1-800-358-6329 is our number one 800 F is an family L as in life. The word today. Now we have got an event taking place this week of family life that were pretty excited about. We got David Robbins was the president of family life, you're with me and David.
This is an event that's happening in the Atlanta area tomorrow and Friday and we want to ask our listeners to join us and pray for you tomorrow and Friday. We have hundreds of people coming together from across the nation in Atlanta for the summit on stepfamily ministry which the goal of it is to help equip them mobilize laypeople and church leaders and pastors and how to minister to the uniqueness of a blended family and helping those marriages thrive in helping the kids involved in those marriages thrive and flourish. According to the word of God in and grow as a godly family and others will invite you to pray for this event. If you will pray with us for God to minister deeply pray for the families that will end up being impacted by the leaders coming together and getting trained that they will go and strengthen marriages and families in ways that we couldn't imagine the stories that we hear a month from now in a year from now maybe five years from now would be things that grow the kingdom of God in ways that we can't believe we get to participate in our hope and prayer is that the seeds that are planted over the next couple of days some on stepfamily ministry would bear a rich harvest in the lives of couples who are forming blended families.
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