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They Listen
Photo: Denis Prokofyev
My youngest son is currently taking a class on communications. Puzzled about some of what was being taught in class, he asked, “Dad, you give presentations, don’t you?”

I admitted this, and he proceeded to ask a number of detailed questions. If you are reading something aloud, how big should the font be on the text you are reading from? How big should the text be on a slide read by the audience? How many words should you have on a slide? What about color and contrast? 

They were good questions, and I answered them with my thoughts. I told him that he wanted more answers than I could give in an evening’s conversation, but that I had written a book on presentations, when I was working on my Master's degree and I would be glad to give him a copy.

A friend and I had written it as an independent study project. I still had an electronic copy of the paper on my computer, and I gave it to my son. He opened it up, and looked at its publication date. “I was only months old when you finished this,” he said. “No wonder I did not know about it.”

Advice from Dad

I told him that I had given copies of the book to his two older brothers when they were in college. That was true, but they had never said anything about it to me. I assumed it was just another piece of advice from dad placed in a black hole somewhere.

Then my youngest son showed me how wrong I was. “That must be why they told me to ask you about presentations,” he replied. “Bill (my middle son), gave me the same answers you had. We talked a while and he said it would be quicker if I asked you.” My youngest son browsed through the file I had given him. “You know, I think he must have been quoting your book.”

As he walked away, it occurred to me—not for the first time—that children really do listen to their parents, even when it is not obvious that they are doing so. I had given my older sons copies of my book years ago, nine years for my oldest, four years back for my second son. Over that period, I had received no feedback from them about it. Yet unknown to me, they were using it regularly, enough that they had memorized some of what I outlined.

There are days when you may feel that your kids do not listen to you. Keep with it anyway. Give them the best advice you can. Set the best example you can, because deeds count even more than words. Do not give up, and do not despair. They do listen. Someday—it may even be years later when your adult children are talking to their children now unborn – you may hear your own words repeated.  That is when you know it was worth it.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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