Quick to Listen—Parenting Adult Children: Be an Owl, not a Crow

Quick to Listen—Parenting Adult Children: Be an Owl, not a Crow September 15, 2021

We need to be quick to listen as parents of adult children. “Only the Wise Listen,” Oil pastel on paper, 24 x 18 inches by Susan E. Brooks

Owl sightings are rare. They generally stay quiet and hidden, but they are always listening. Their hearing is highly developed. And when an owl speaks, it seems to be asking a question. “Who?” Owls are a symbol of wisdom and knowledge, and I wonder if that’s because they don’t need to be seen and heard. Instead, they seem to be learning and questioning. The older I get, the more I question so many things I took for granted as a young person. Usually, it’s better not to make assumptions and be more like the owl. Be silent, quick to listen, and ask questions.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

—James 1:19

Don’t Be a Crow

Owls inspire me, but crows—not so much. Whenever I can in the morning, I go outside to sit among the tall trees in my backyard. I like to commune with nature, journal and pray in the mornings. But the other day, a murder of crows disturbed my peace. A sentry crow or three perched in the treetops high above my head. Flapping their wings in panic and cawing, fleeing, then soaring back to regroup, the noisy birds distracted me from my intended focus. They seemed to be announcing the apocalypse.

Finally, the dark shapes disappeared from view, and I enjoyed a few minutes of quiet. The term “murder of crows” felt appropriate. It is thought to have originated from old folk tales. For example, in one folktale, crows gathered to decide which of them had to die. This folktale raises too many modern comparisons in my mind, but I choose to focus on the owl for now.

Be Quick to Listen

I hope to be more like an owl than a crow, but sometimes I fail. My family has grown to be a total of 18 people, and we love to get together. And by family I mean my husband and I, our children and their spouses, and our 10 grandchildren. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to plan get-togethers for all of us, but we love it so much. My grandkids are crazy about each other, and it gives me such joy to see all the little (and some getting big) cousins playing together.

A case in point of my failure to be an owl occurred this week. A birthday party was planned for one of our grandchildren. At first, we thought it was a convenient time for everyone, and maybe the only time available for the birthday girl’s family. Then life happened, and it looked like none of the cousins would be available for the party. My “grandmother bear” instinct took over, or maybe “grandmother crow,” and I started squawking like it was the end of the world. “This cannot be! My granddaughter must have some cousins at her party! What can we do?” I made a bunch of noise instead of silently waiting and thinking about a solution. I put too much pressure on my already-stressed-out adult children. They were silent, waiting and listening for me to calm down.

Be Like the Owl

After I did calm down to think, and asked a few questions instead of making demands, we came up with a solution. We combined the party with another gathering that allowed all of the cousins to be together. I apologized to my kids, and I think they still love me.

Lesson learned, I hope. When it comes to parenting adult children, I need to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and ask a bunch of questions before jumping to control everything. I need to be a wise owl instead of an old crow.


What makes a good parent in your opinion? I’d love to hear it in the comments.


I’m an artist who loves to write. If you’d like to get to know me better, please follow me on social media.

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