Why Won’t My Son Listen?


There I am, in the middle of lecturing my son with raised voice, when I see the tears welling up in his eyes. I wonder why it has to come to this again- why he simply won’t listen to me. One minute he is frustrated about homework and the next minute he’s annoying his sisters. How can he ask for my help, then turn around and tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about? Why did he go upstairs to bother his sisters when I just told him to leave them alone? Obviously he refuses to just listen!

Tonight he is Bo Jackson in “The Wax Museum”, a school project based upon famous people for his fourth grade class. He is so excited, but I am extremely frustrated as he procrastinated on his research and speech, then argued with everyone about how to prepare his costume. With every piece of advice, he did not want to listen. Between his school bag, lunch, helmet, bat, football, and the rest of his costume, there was just too much to carry, so I told him I would drop his costume and extras off later to the school. Instead of listening, he makes life hard on himself and struggles to drag everything in this morning.

So there I am listening to Bo Jackson talk about growing up and not being proud to have been a bully. I am happy to see him standing in front of all these parents speaking loudly and clearly, but wondering why things had to be so hard. When is he going to listen to what we as parents say?

As the show ends, I am walking a couple feet behind my son down the hallway when my son begins to run ahead. I am left thinking I told him not to run in the hallway at school. He stops at Betsy Ross, who is struggling to carry a heavy chair and knitted American flag. He proceeds to ask if he can help her, takes the chair, and walks it back to her class for her! In that split second, it becomes clear that he is listening and watching. “Be an Individual…, never give up when things are hard…, think for yourself and be a leader…, always be considerate of others…”

It is clear that I should not be frustrated with him, but rather with my own way of thinking. I can only advise him on ways that worked best for me, but who am I to think that my way is the best way? Why should I tell him to “Be a Leader”, but expect him to follow what every adult says? Why do I expect him to do something my way, yet tell him to “work through adversity”? It is clear that he is listening, and even though I am giving him mixed messages, he is clearly making great decisions to make himself the best he can be!

Upon tucking him into bed, I mention how happy I was seeing him as Bo Jackson, but more importantly, I make it clear how PROUD I am to see him, as Jake, help out his classmate! As I go to bed, I wonder how long it will be before I forget what my son has “told” me with his actions tonight. It is clear he is listening, and it is I who needs to listen more. I am holding him to high standards, but must be willing to allow him to learn on his journey. As for today, with one simple action, I know he is clearly listening!

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