Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast Episode 034 - Why Won't My Child Listen to Me?
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Purposed Parent/Connected Child Podcast
Episode #034 – Why Won’t My Child Listen to Me?
Thank you for listening to the Purposed Parent/Connected Child podcast. My prayer is that you and I will parent with purpose and confidently connect with Christ and our children moment by moment.
When my two oldest children (from our first set of parenting) were young, I had one child who seemed to listen, but always made the choice to as we call it, “learn things the hard way.” Was this his personality? Was it a lack of connection between us? Was it a combination of the two? I’m not sure.
As a mom, it’s easy for me to imagine that it was something we did or didn’t do. Now an adult, my son tells us that he simply had to learn things through experience. It makes me wonder, though, if there was anything we could have done differently to ensure that he had the very best opportunity to learn and grow in this world without having to experience mishaps and hurts that maybe could have been detoured.
However, in my 43 years of parenting I have learned that:
1. Children are unique.
2. Children have varied interests and personality.
3. Children experience life and learning differently.
4. Experiences shape how children learn and listen.
5. If a child doesn’t honor their parents, they probably won’t listen to them.
6. Each child needs a strong relationship with Christ mentored from the beginning of their life.
7. Once a child learns to honor God, they should desire to honor their parents.
So, of course, parents can agree that it is crucial to raise children who listen to them. One thing, however, is more important.
How can you ensure that you raise children who listen to you? Most importantly, how do you raise children who listen to God?
Raising them to know and honor the Lord is crucial. I have many podcast episodes featuring specific steps needed to build that foundation. I invite you to look at previous Purposed Parent/Connected Child episode topics. Right now, I believe we need to uncover ways children appear not to listen.
What are 9 of the reasons a child may not listen?
1. Distractions – sometimes our children are overwhelmed with all that is happening around them, especially if they are using a lot of electronics or games.
2. Processing Disorder or Special Needs – When your children face sensory, processing challenges, or have specific special needs, you may need to find alternate ways to communicate. You know your child better than anyone. Watch how they respond to various ways of communication and use what works for your family.
3. Fears/Worries/Anxiety - When children are afraid, anxious, or worried, their brain cannot function normally. That fight or flight response will most likely block out what you are attempting to teach. It also makes it difficult for your child to react without difficulty and to carry the ability to make positive changes in behavior and reasoning.
4. Attention Seeker – Sometimes children need more of the right kind of attention. Homes are so rushed! If your child doesn’t have the opportunity to simply sit and talk with you or you haven’t been able to connect through play or another preferred activity, they may be showing you their disappointment through behavior.
5. No Down Time – Is your child constantly on the run? Do they have time to be a child? When I was young, kids were allowed to be kids. We didn’t rush from practices to games to lessons to events or whatever other opportunities came our way. Childhood was more relaxed. We had time to use our minds and enjoyed doing it. Many kids today don’t know how to use imagination or think critically. They need down time to know themselves and to build skills they will need in their lifetime. They don’t have time to read and study the Bible, let alone begin to pray and converse with God.
6. Inconsistent Parenting – Are you consistent in your instructions and expectations? Children are masters at knowing when they can get away with things. They easily recognize which parent is likely to forget things and children understand what buttons to push to get what they want.
7. Complicated Instructions – Do you forget that you are speaking with a child? Perhaps your instructions are not clear or need to be shortened into bite sized expectations.
8. Rushed Parent – Do you make sure that you clearly communicate expectations? Or are you throwing instructions out like confetti as you rush out the door? Are you making time to verbally discuss requirements when you and your child can communicate with words, questions, and eye contact?
9. Rebellion – Children, especially teens and young adults who have not connected with Christ or their parents in an important way may turn rebellious. Sometimes it is masking a lack of confidence. Sometimes they have not surrendered their life to Christ and may be running from Him or hiding a sin issue that is blocking relationship with God. In this broken world, events happen that may be out of your control. If your child has been exposed to pornography, assaulted, or a variety of other hardships that may have occurred, they may not have shared the guilt or shame associated with the event. Or they may not know how to stop an addiction that has occurred. Sometimes a life event or event will occur that shake the family and utilize a lot of time, leaving children vulnerable and scared. This may cause them to seek areas of influence they normally would not encounter. Many things can place a block in their relationship with you and God.
Big indicators of the condition of your child’s heart are the words they speak, the actions they take, and the way they respond to you.
Let’s examine 10 ways to help your child listen and respond:
1. Attachment/Connection – Making time to connect with your child always pays off in many ways! A connected child responds better under stress and uncertainty and usually desires to please.
2. Respect – Just as parents desire respect, so do children. Of course, I am not saying that parents need to cater to whims of their children, but respecting your child as a unique individual created by God for a purpose and placed under your mentorship is the mindset needed to craft considerate timing of direction, instruction, or reprimands to ensure good communication and relationship.
3. Consistency – As you grow more consistent in your parenting, walk with Christ, discipline, and relationship with your child, your child should respond in ways that are pleasing and honoring. Children must know what to expect. Parents must ensure that they are not punishing and responding with incorrect or ungodly emotions and responses, but in ways that mentor their child closer to God.
4. Mentor/Model Behavior – As you grow your walk with Christ, your responses and past difficulties and hurts should be resolved or eliminated. Parents come with baggage, but those loads should not be pressed into the hands and hearts of your children. Allowing your children to see that you are imperfect, but transforming daily through the grace of God, and owning up to mistakes or failures in age appropriate ways allows your children to attach to you in deeper ways, but even better, shows them the life-changing power of God.
5. Clear Expectations – Give clear instructions. Don’t assume they should know. Don’t belittle questions. Be direct and make time to ensure expectations are understood.
6. Instruct (Don’t Ask) – Instead of asking your child what they want to do, tell them what you desire. Many parents say, “Would you like to get your coat on now?” instead of simply requesting a child to put on their coat. In my experience, children need transition times. I love using comments such as, “We’ll be leaving soon, so you’ll need to get your coat on in 5 minutes.” Or “I’ve had so much fun playing, but we only have 5 minutes left. After that, we’ll eat lunch.”
7. Mentor (Don’t Command) – Instead of issuing commands like an officer, mentoring your child in relationships and ways of life bring connection and peace to the home.
8. Age Appropriate Expectations - Allow children to carry age appropriate loads, but be cognizant of disabilities or other issues that may come into play. Stretch, but don’t overload your child.
9. Construct Identity and Obedience to Christ – As you instruct and communicate with your child, remember that ultimately you are crafting their relationship with Christ. The way you live and learn, continuing to develop yourself as a person directly affects the life your child will live. The stronger you tie your identity to Jesus and mature under and through Him, the higher the chances are that your child will do the same, especially if you are intentional and prayerful with the steps you take to help them.
10. Time – If you suspect something has happened to cause a change of behavior in your child, so not hesitate to spend time with them. At this stage, they may be avoiding you, but make sure you are not hurt by behavior they may exhibit. Keep the lines of communication open. Keep them loving, but godly. Rely on prayer, Bible study, and time alone with God so that you can listen for and hear the Lord’s promptings. Spend time with your child doing things they love (or previously enjoyed). If you believe you need to seek counseling, be sure you see a godly Christian counselor who will rely on Scripture and techniques that support Christian beliefs.
When we brought our youngest home from China at the age of nine, we were all strangers to her. By the time we arrived at our home, she had known us for less than 3 weeks. After giving up almost everything familiar to her, she had to travel to a new country and new home, despite fears or insecurities. Once in her new home, she had to adjust to a completely different style of life, parenting, and routines. Our girl didn’t even understand English, and even if we had known the language she was accustomed to hearing, she had not been exposed to it enough to use any words.
Should she be expected to arrive in her new home and obey without any hesitation or difficulty? I don’t think so. I know in our case it took time to bond and attach. It took time for her to trust us and to feel safe enough to show that trust with joyful obedience. We had to prove ourselves to her, show that we cared, devote time to her, show her that we always responded with love, that we listened to her, that we desired to spend time with her, that she was a valued member of our family, and that we would consistently supply her needs.
Parenting is very complex. There ae a variety of reasons families need help. Sometimes parents have parented their desires into their children and try to impress their desires and needs into their children instead of directing them to fulfillment and identity in Christ.
Sometimes it is the culture your child is submersed in that causes them to stop listening to you. Without Christ as the anchor and goal of identity, children are bombarded by distracting messages and indoctrinations. Parents must be diligent in seeking the Lord ourselves, then mentoring the way to Him to our children with love and faith.
If you are more concerned with society’s view of your children than God’s opinion and instructions, your parent/child relationship is already sabotaged. Without strong connection, a child can easily wander away from parents and Christ.
You must be cognizant of not finding your identity in your child or pressing your unfulfilled hopes and dreams onto your children. If you are more concerned with your reputation or your control over your child than leading them to a life-saving relationship with Christ, you have already inflicted relationship wounds that will take time to heal.
Situations are varied and parents must seek wisdom and discernment from God. He created each of you for a purpose and crafted you together as family for reasons only He understands. If the great I Am considers your family to be a perfect unit, don’t hesitate in mentoring a life of devotion to Him and living a life dependent on His instruction and provision in every need your family has. He desires for your children to listen to the godly wisdom He gifts you with, but you must seek Him and request that wisdom and discernment.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Although this verse is referenced often, use it as a strong reminder that you must be intentional as you parent. The years we have been given to instruct our children are fleeting. Although they seem long at the time, time passes faster than we realize. The moments we are given are precious. What seems like an eternity in the moment will seem like seconds when you look back on it in the future. Use the time you have to seek the presence of God and allow Him into every area of your life and parenting. He desires to be your guide and mentor through the years of crafting firm foundations for the life of your child.
The most important reason to construct a strong relationship with your child that makes them desire listening to you is to lead them to hear and obey God.
Dear Heavenly Father, You alone are perfect. We thank you and we honor Your presence in our life. You offer riches beyond what this world offers and the peace and security that comes from a life devoted to You is immeasurable. Help us to be parents who seek You first and abide in the plans you have for us as we teach our children to do the same. Allow our minds to search Yours for the direction we need to raise children who respect you and us, who listen and obey because they know and honor You, and give us the honor of raising children who follow You above the chaos of this world. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
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Remember, if we are not purposed in knowing Jesus ourselves and showing Him to the next generation, the world will sway them away from Christ. I pray that what you hear on this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on new ways to Parent and Connect With Eternal Perspective.