The Benefits of Valuing Your Child’s Opinion
“Mom, I think we should invite the new neighbors over for dinner.” How would this statement sink in (or not) when coming from your child? Ashley points us to the value of listening, really listening to our kids and considering their opinions.
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— Proverbs 1:5
To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13
In eighth grade, Mrs. Staples, my history teacher, was someone who loved and valued children. She encouraged us to speak our minds and share our views and opinions on the world. She regularly started class by opening discussion about current events, and then listening and validating what our courage to speak up.
What my class shared wasn’t always correct, or relevant, or even true, but Mrs. Staples always let us speak. She would end the discussion with phrases like, “that’s an interesting thought,” or “I haven’t thought of it that way before.” She didn’t necessarily agree with what we had to say, but she listened and acknowledged each and every comment. Mrs. Staples produced an environment where her students felt welcome to speak and valued as people who had a relevant and important point of view to share.
- Create a safe space for conversation. When kids know that they are valued and seen not as “silly kids with silly things to say,” but as people who have an important viewpoint, they are more likely to share the thoughts filling their minds. It’s so easy to disregard what kids say for their lack of life experience and knowledge about the world at large. But kids are perceptive, and have real insight to share about life from their altitude. Taking a few minutes to put away distractions, focus on the kid, and listen goes a long way.
- Validate what is being said, even if you don’t agree. Validating their input isn’t telling them they are correct when they aren’t, or agreeing when you don’t. It is simply saying to them “I hear you, you are welcome to your opinion, and you are important to me.”
- Use your kid’s idea, even if it isn’t how or what you would do. We all learn through trial and error. It’s important to allow your kids to help make decisions sometimes. It can be as simple as asking their input for dinner, or even in making weekend plans. Their ideas may not be what you would have chosen, they may make decisions that don’t make perfect sense to you, and it may not even work out, but being allowed to have a say is good practice for them and will help make your kid feel important and heard.
As Mrs. Staples helped me be able to openly share my opinion even if it wasn’t popular or what she agreed with, parents can help their kids do the same thing. The best part about this is that it is a great spring board for a child to confidently share their faith in Jesus with others…even when folks might not share the same view point.
- Thank the adults in your life who allow you to speak your mind, and know that you are heard, important, and so very loved.
- Think of someone or somebody you can share your faith with this school year…even if you know they might not agree.