It is a folly and shame to him.
Scripture has a lot to say about being quick to listen and slow to speak. Speaking from personal experience as a mother, it is very easy to feel like you already know what your children are going to say. In this realm especially it is easy to treat our children as half-people. Like the concerns that they are bringing to us are not the concerns of a friend, or the concerns of someone who is really struggling, but rather just background noise to our life. We treat their biggest problems as our littlest, and we brush them off. When they talk, we do other things. When they come to get help, we are mentally elsewhere, letting them tell us things that we don’t listen to, but then giving them counsel anyway.
Children fall into the same sorts of sins repeatedly. They bicker with each other. They get their feelings hurt. They disobey and backtalk. All these things can make us want to rush right in and say something without actually taking the time to hear. I know this story, and it is old news. So why bother to listen? Why not just answer the matter with a vague response. Sometimes we think that listening to our children is a way of indulging the sin. They are being wrong, why should I listen? Why don’t I just tell them they are wrong at the outset?
Probably the easiest way to think of this is to imagine some kind of sin or problem that you fall into regularly. What kind of things do you repeatedly want to talk about? The hard day? The trouble you have with getting to the grocery store? The tiredness of not having a moment to yourself? Your weight? The dirtiness of the house, the needs of the kids, the temptation to anger you have? Think of coming to your husband with this kind of struggle in the evening and having him cut you off immediately with, “We’ve talked about this before, sweetie.”
Even if the problem you are bringing to him has been talked about a thousand different times, it hasn’t been talked about today. It hasn’t been talked about with these very specific details in place. It might not change the actual advice. He might actually be perfectly right if he doesn’t look up from his book but just says, “Be thankful. Your work is important. Your kids are worth it. You’ll get on top of the house soon.”
What should be clear to us is how much this approach would not be helpful. It isn’t just a bad idea to not listen when you don’t know what is going on, it is a bad idea to not listen when you do know. This verse tells us that it is more than just bad PR, it is a folly and a shame.
As parents, we forget how much those conversations mean to these little people. Listening first qualifies you to speak. When you are qualified, you can in turn be listened to. And not surprisingly, when we listen, we often find that God leads us to answer differently than our first impulse.