“What? Oh, sure, honey. Yeah.” Her dad was peering intently at his computer screen, while 8 year old Alexa was rubbing her elbow. She didn’t think her daddy was listening, but he said he was. So, she went on.
“Why do they call it my funny bone? There’s nothing funny about knocking it on the door frame and getting all tingly.” She paused and peered at her father, as her dad’s focus continued glued to his screen.
“It hurts, Dad. I think I broke it.”
“Uh, huh.” Was the only response she got from her dad. Alexa sighed, rubbing her elbow, and concluded, “Oh, never mind.” She then walked away.
So, Alexa’s dad may have been hearing her, but he certainly was not listening. He was in his own world where Alexa didn’t exist or, at best, was an intrusion. No parent intentionally puts their child in that position of invisibility.
Hearing is a neurological phenomenon, where sound waves enter the ear, connect with the auditory nerve, convert to neurotransmission, and are sent to the brain for interpretation. It’s medically very elegant. One of God’s ways of alerting us to our surroundings. But in relationship, hearing another is only the tip of the iceberg.
In the ocean, we only see 10% of a floating iceberg. 90% is underwater. Similarly, hearing is only 10% of relationship. Listening is the other 90%. Listening generates interaction with your child.
If daddy had been interested and really wanted to hear Alexa, He would have done several things immediately after she came to him. He would have paused his computer program and turned the screen blank.
He would have turned from his desk and faced Alexa straight on at her eye level. If he was unsure of her comments, he would have asked for clarification. Seeing that she had physical pain, having bumped her elbow, he would have asked to examine the injury. Knowing by her words and actions that she had an emotional fever, he would have gathered Alexa into his arms for a hug and then used active listening to help her understand her feelings. As he saw Alexa’s emotional fever lessen, he might have turned to the funny bone comment and had a teachable moment with his daughter. Listening is much more than hearing. Are you listening to your spouse and children?