I believe that everyone has a need to be heard. Why do you think so many update their tweets, facebook status, and blog about what they’re experiencing and feeling? Because really, you’re only writing to yourself, hoping that someone reads and responds. Yup, and I’m one of them! I believe no matter quiet you are, every human being wants to be heard and understood. And this is no different for children. I was up one night last week, and I was flipping through the channel (as I usually do late at night) and I came upon a rerun of Oprah. I’ve always had love-hate relationship with her and the show. But that’s another story. Anyhow, what caught my attention were two kids that were sitting on her couch crying. It was a show on her most memorable guests from the past 25 years. Apparently Daisy and Kris were on her show back in 2007 as 11 and 7 years old respectively. They were with psychotherapist M. Gary Neuman talking about their feeling about their absent mom. Kris, in his quivering little voice, said that he had bought his mom a fake diamond ring so that she would come back to him and his sister instead of going away with her boyfriend. As he started crying, I found myself crying along with him.
4 years later, Daisy and Kris were back on the show, and it’s obvious that the hurt is still very deep in their hearts. Daisy tells Gary, “if—when—I have kids, I’m not going to leave them. Even if we get a divorce, I’m still going to celebrate their birthdays and pay alimony. I’m not going to leave them there to suffer. I know how that feels.” Gary went on to say that the best way to value children is for them to be heard. I thought about this for a while.
I think there are many ways to value children. I agree with Gary that one way is to really, really listen to them. I believe even the shyest child has something in his/her heart, and wants to be heard. How often do we take time to listen to what kids have to say? In your home? How about in your church? As Kidmin Director, I’ve always been trained to communicate with leaders, staff, volunteers, and parents–to hear their concerns and thoughts. But no one has taught me to listen to the kids. Over the years, I figured out that kids have a lot poignant and important things to say than I had given them credit for. Kids know what they like, kids can tell you what they’ve learned, and kids know why they like or dislike coming to church. In addition, when you talk to a child or two, you can better understand what’s in their hearts: their joys and their hurts. Afterall, isn’t ministry to children about MINISTRY? not just fun programming…
If we want to really shape and grow a great kids ministry, I believe it’s important for these children to be heard! So parents, children’s directors/pastors, volunteers… spend some time talking to the kids that are in your care!!! Let them be HEARD!