Fierce Parenting: Listening Changes Everything

We’re mingling again! This time, Adrienne is here!  Adrienne was one of my early friends in the blog world, who I believe I met through Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out weekly link up.  There’s nothing like eating chocolate when we pour our hearts out to friends, in real life or virtual (is there a difference, though?  My blog friends are my real friends), or drinking coffee or wine.  So, that’s what I’m serving up today in honor of Adrienne.  I love this woman.  She is kind, wise, and has a strong and admirable faith.  I learn so much from her every time I read her writing.  Including today….

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“That’s it! End of conversation!” 

Growing up I can remember being driven to tears of frustration and anger from feeling like I wasn’t being heard.

“It’s my way or the highway!”

I used to get so angry knowing that my opinion didn’t matter. That no matter what the opinion was, I rarely, if ever, got the chance to have it.

“If you don’t like it, there’s the door!”

Now I’m a parent and I often catch myself saying some of the same things to my children that my parents used to say to me. And while I know that’s the natural order of things, I also know it doesn’t have to be.

I don’t like seeing myself in a light I never liked about my own parents.

There’s a part of me that has to have the last word and win every argument.

There’s a part of me that hates to be wrong.

I have a prideful heart and let my defenses get in the way of understanding the ones I love the most.

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But, I want my children to know that they are heard. I don’t have to agree with them. I don’t even have to like what they say, but I believe that I should listen.

When I slow down and really listen, it changes everything.

Taking the time to listen can change the tone and mood of a heated discussion.

A listening ear can turn an argument into an understanding.

A calm heart that slows down long enough to listen lets my kids know that I love them even if they are wrong.

The time it takes to listen can feel like an eternity. After all, I just want to move on. I am the parent. They should listen to me.

Then I realize that’s not the kind of parent I want be.

When I take the time to listen, I’m forced to calm down, and take a deep breath. In that moment, my children know they matter.

I want to put my parenting pride aside and try to see the world from where they are. They lack experience, knowledge, and understanding of this world.

But, how can we ever expect our children to figure it out if we don’t provide the tools necessary to work through conflict and reasoning.

How can we expect our kids to take on the world, when they can’t even catch a breath in their own home?

I remember how awful it felt to be stifled, and I want to do things differently.

Just because we take the time to listen doesn’t mean we lose authority, it simply means we gain understanding.

We may take that understanding and still have the same parenting convictions and land at the same result we would have had we not empathized with our children, but the result within their hearts will be different.

The difference is at least they know we cared enough to let them talk it out.

How do you handle conflict in your home? Is it hard for you to slow down and listen sometimes?

Adrienne

Adrienne is a homeschooling mother of two and blogger at www.themommymess.com, where she writes about the mess of motherhood with an honest voice and open heart! Find her as @TheMommyMess on Twitter and be sure to connect with her on Facebook.

 


Comments

Fierce Parenting: Listening Changes Everything — 41 Comments

    • Ya know what? I needed to read this today too, and I’m the one who wrote it! How’s that for learning to be different. I lost my patience yesterday, and hate when I become the kind of parent I don’t want to be. Sigh…I’m learning and trying. I think that’s what matters.
      Adrienne recently posted…Listening Changes EverythingMy Profile

  1. Oh my friend, your upbringing sounds just like mine! My sister and I have jokingly labeled my Dad Mr Know-It-All because he had to be right, because why wouldn’t he be? Hence no listening ears.

    I too, would like to be different. Even though neither of my kids are exactly talking, there are ways to ‘listen’ and pay attention, and that’s what I’m working on. Loved this post!
    Alison recently posted…Time, I’m SorryMy Profile

    • Oh, girl! It it still frustrating and I’m a 35 year old woman. I just don’t want to do that to my kids. I’m trying. It’s hard to break some of the habits that are instilled in us over so many years. But, I think awareness is key. At least I know it sucks to be the kind of parent that doesn’t listen. That’s a start right?
      Adrienne recently posted…Listening Changes EverythingMy Profile

  2. So hard to do, but what a difference listening does make – in every relationship – but especially as our kids get older. It helps teach respect and patience too. I often look at how my kids treat each other as that reminds me they are learning those skills from someone:))
    Leah Davidson recently posted…My Big BoysMy Profile

  3. This is so true Adrienne. In the moment when frustrations are high, it can be so hard to do. But taking that deep breath and waiting for that connection to reappear – so that everyone can begin to see from the other’s point of view – makes such a difference. I work on this, too; some days it is harder than others.
    Kim recently posted…Close Enough to TouchMy Profile

  4. What a beautiful testimony that speaks to the heart of parenting. Listening is what people pay therapist to do because nobody else does it that well – except you. (I do it every day in my practice for children – it’s so rewarding!). Thank you for your heart felt words about the miracle of listening.

  5. Two of my favorite people in one place-Yay! You have so much goodness here I can’t pick one particular sentence that stands out. Love the overarching theme: How do I show you I love you? By listening.

    Yes, it is hard to listen. I think it was one of the hardest things, actually, to being a parent. To avoid further conflict, long ago my girls and I reached an agreement requested by them. When they would come to me to share, I would ask if they wanted me to just listen, or if they wanted suggestions or advice. They appreciated the listening, and (mostly) only got advice when they were actively seeking it. Happier kids, happier mom, happier family. 🙂
    Kim recently posted…The importance of stretching your comfort zoneMy Profile

  6. Yes, it is hard sometimes and I find myself being everything I disliked about parents when I was a kid. I can’t say my own parents because I felt they were very patient and listened a LOT. And there were five of us. But I took it personally seeing parents sigh or roll their eyes at their imaginative kids in public. I swore to never become that kind of parent and of course I have before. This post is timely to me because as I write this comment, one needs me and I don’t want to ignore her. Glad I got to read this in time!
    Tamara recently posted…Girls of Summer.My Profile

    • Exactly, Tamara. I just had a sit down with my oldest (14) about our rough day yesterday. Luckily, I can apologize for being a mega B, and because I haven’t totally screwed up in the parenting dept. yet, he accepts my apology and we can move forward.
      Adrienne recently posted…Listening Changes EverythingMy Profile

  7. Oh Adrienne, I can completely relate to all of this. I don’t recall being listened to and I do want to be different for my kids. However, I do find myself slipping into those old patterns and I can’t believe some of the things that come out of my mouth sometimes!! Listening is so hard especially because I feel like we’re constantly rushed and because of that, we don’t give our kids/family/friends the luxury of listening. But listening shouldn’t be a luxury should it? It should be something that we automatically are willing to do especially for those whom we love. Beautiful post!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Pin It Party – Take 2!My Profile

  8. OH this is wonderful Adrienne!! SO great to see you here with one of the BEST!! Two for the price (click) of one!!! YAY! 😉
    Oh yes… I am with you on this issue. Old school parenting meant no explanations and children have no voice. Isn’t it wonderful we can make changes for our own children? Oh, how we so need to honor their opinions and feelings. And that doesn’t take away our authority, it grows our relationship and builds a longstanding trust. They deserve our ears and our hearts… even if the situation doesn’t change.
    Chris Carter recently posted…Sliding Into Summer!! Summer Plans For Kids…My Profile

  9. I go thorough the same thing – cringing when I say words that my parents used to say that always made me feel awful. I love how you point out that while the decision you make may be the same, there is a much more important outcome of our listening to our kids – that they feel heard and appreciated.
    Tricia recently posted…Conference fear and making connectionsMy Profile

    • I think it’s important to give them a chance to speak their mind respectfully without anger. They only way they’ll learn to do that is in our home. Then, when they’re out in the world (hopefully) they will be able to speak their mind calmly, intelligently, and handle a conflict with grace. That’s my hope anyway!
      Adrienne recently posted…Quick and Easy Homeschool Lesson PlanningMy Profile

  10. This reminds me of conversations when I was growing up–always top down. Like you, my goal is to raise my kids with a listening ear and understanding. I want them to understand that regardless, they are being heard and I take their concerns seriously. Which is why whenever an “event” happens, I aways say to them, “let’s talk about this.” At least we all get a better understanding of where we were all coming from.
    KalleyC recently posted…Simplicity by ManMy Profile

  11. Oh my gosh, I feel like I could have written this post. I feel the exact same way. I also felt stifled growing up. I try to slow down and just listen and talk to my kids. It’s hard, and I definitely catch myself saying stuff like “If you would just listen to me, we wouldn’t be having these conversations!” In those cases, I often tell them what set me off later. I try at least to show them that we all have emotions and that’s okay. In the end, it’s that listening ear that keeps them happy and feeling appreciated.

    p.s. My middle name is Adrienne! 🙂
    another jennifer recently posted…Philanthropy Friday: Food For Thought on Global NutritionMy Profile

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