Hear with your ears; listen with your heart
Often the child wants no suggestions or advise from parents, but for parents to listen in this focused, attentive way. If they want advise, they will often ask for it. Your child can advise you, perhaps subtly, when they want you to listen, and when they want you to offer advice. If uncertain, we can ask if they want us to listen or they want us to offer suggestions, which shows our respect for this child.
Sometimes a child may say very little. The child may be silent, or respond to us with a single word or short sentence, or give us a cold look. Difficult as it is for parents, we need to respect each childs privacy. Listen carefully to each child, and each will suggest to us when they do not want to interact with us. Perhaps each of us parents has times when we feel introspective — feel that we want to keep our thoughts and problems to ourselves. We dont want others intruding. That is how our children sometimes feel. Our relationship with each child grows stronger as we allow this space, difficult as that may sometimes be.
For interrupting try a "talking stick"
The "talking stick" is a very useful tool. A Native American talking stick is often adorned, but its purpose is to let one person talk while all others listen. Only the person who holds the talking stick can talk; all others must be silent — and hopefully carefully listen — until that person offers the talking stick to the group. When two or many all want to talk, pick up a stick or pencil to use as a talking stick. A talking stick says to those nearby, "Listen to me!" It says to the one holding it, "Speak your feelings reverently," then offer it to the group.
As a family project to encourage listening, you might create your family's decorated talking stick to place it in a central place in the home. When any family member wants others to listen, pick it up. When a family meets to discuss a family situation, a talking stick may help each person feel that they can speak and are listened to and heard.
The illustration at the top is a talking stick used by Dr. Carol Locust.
Please think carefully about what Dr. Rachel Remen says, "Listening generously to another person is a very powerful way to put them in touch with their hidden strength. It's the power of presence and humanity and love." It shows respect for the person.
and sons learn to listen
Boys have absorbed from our culture to separate from mothers, so they are not mama’s boy, while mothers also do not want a mama’s boy. Barney Brawer, an education consultant, said of this group, “Boys learned more nuanced understanding of the adult woman who is his mom.” One boy said, when we’re talking books, we’re not mothers and sons. We’re people.
The report was written by Barbara Meltz in the Boston Globe in January 2004. This is a model we can try to develop variations based on interests of your sons and daughters.
What is more ennobling than to realize that your son, your daughter recognizes that parents are people!