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I often joke that my nine year-old son would make a wonderful Christian. He has the confessional part down pat. For as long as I can remember, as soon as he gets home, he dumps his bag and the confessional begins. I, of course, play the part of his priest. I am told who he fought with, how many times he left class, what perceived slights he endured, what he doled out to others. When he is finished listing pretty much everything, he grabs a snack and runs out to play with his friends leaving me feeling tired, overwhelmed and perhaps in need of chocolate.

I’ve got to wonder how much is too much? Should your child be telling you everything? I know a couple of things: in a few years, he’ll stop telling me stuff. I’ll have to resort to open ended questions, spy-like tactics and listening hard to decipher what he isn’t telling me. I also know that kids need their own space and place. My job as a mother isn’t too be omnipresent. I simply need to be present.

I seem to be in the minority here. Most parents find the challenge to be how to effectively communicate with their kids. How to draw out information about school, friends, opinions. Psychologists offer advice about how to ask questions, when to ask questions and how to listen. I find little research on how to say, “maybe you don’t need to tell me that you came in from recess 5 minutes late.”

Or maybe he should keep talking? My son is a beautiful, bright, vibrant, soulful child. Maybe, for as long as he’s willing to talk (and talk and talk and talk), I should be standing there, grateful, listening.

What do you think? Is there a limit to what and how much a parent should hear?