Teaching Your Children to Listen

Isn't it funny how we celebrate the day when our child learns to speak his first words.  We can't wait to hear that first, "Da-Da" or "Ma-Ma" come from their mouths.  It's a big milestone for our kids, and we should get excited about it. Yet, the Bible seems to lessen the importance of talking and heighten the importance of listening, when it comes to teaching our children.  Specifically, the Proverbs tell us that listening leads to wisdom.

  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.           Prov. 19:20
  • Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.    Prov. 1:8
  • The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.   Prov. 12:15

It seems that the pathway to wisdom and life is through listening--listening specifically to the good advice from godly parents.  Conversely, the pathway to foolishness and death is through not listening--not listening to one's parents and elders but rather doing what is right in one's own eyes.

A powerful story of this reality is found in the book, Hedge of Thorns, first published in 1819 by John Hatchard, then rewritten by Mark Hamby and published in 1999 by Lamplighter Publishing

In it the author tells of a young, 10 year-old boy named John who is told by his parents to never go beyond the "hedge of thorns" in his yard.  But his curiosity gets the best of him and he contrives a plan where he gets his little sister, Belle, to help him make his way through the thorny hedge.  Little Belle, being just 5 years old, is swept up into the excitement of seeing what is beyond the hedge, but when she's forced by her brother to actually press through the thorns she is reluctant.  Yet John will not be denied, and so he shoves his sister forward into the hedge.  Belle immediately cries out in pain as the thorns cut through her little face and eyes.  John screams for his mom and dad, and his mom comes running only to find her little daughter screaming wildly and bleeding profusely.  After little Belle is all bandaged up, John confesses to his mom the whole truth of his sinful plan.  Although his mom is grateful for the honest confession, she tells him that his punishment is to hold his weeping sister in his lap as she runs to get his father.  In that moment, John shares with the reader the following words.

I beg you not to follow after vain and empty pursuits that may taste sweet awhile, but end in bitterness.  If you are young, listen to your parents, for God has placed them as an earthly Hedge that will keep you on right paths which lead to blessing and long life.

Parent, if you long for your children to be wise, teach them to listen.  Team them to listen to you as you listen to the Lord.  And when they hear you speak may your words come out of a heart that's filled with the holy Scriptures.