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alarm bells
sigh of relief
family member
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The Vital Art Of Listening
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The other day one of my offspring had a bit of a melt down. He was upset and started questioning everything about himself and what was his worth.How did he fit into a society he felt so disconnected from. How could he feel any sort of feeling for a family member who in his words, "had lost the light that surrounded them." What was his purpose. What was the purpose.

He was very animated in throwing this all at me. He was angry, upset, dispondant, cynical and generally feeling very dpressed. He didn't want to tell me at first what was really bothering him unitl I reminded him of a statement he made to me, "no matter what we can always talk to each other."

After that, he let it all out, warts and all. I listened to every word that he said. I didn't shake my head, nod my head, roll my eyes, close my eyes in frustration, cry, get angry, nothing. I just did what he wanted me do. To listen. After he had had his say, I didn't give my opnion or judgement, I asked him questions about the points he had made. This made him think and clarify what he wanted to get across.

I am prepared to admit that some of the things he did say were very introverted and I got a bit angry at that. That is it was all about him and his life and his feelings. He spoke as if he was a toddler throwing himself on the floor in a tantrum to get what he wanted. I have never subscribed to that and won't. I did tell him to get a grip on himself and stop being so self absorbed as that is what he was doing.

He was angry at the world for everything then I heard alarm bells ringing in my head "danger, danger" I was scared that he "wanted out" as he said and made the implication of that meant in my head. He realised that what he had said could be taken the wrong way and reassured me that wanting out, did not meant ending his life. Relief swept over me but I didn't show it, I just kept calm.

After about 1 hour and after tears and anger, it was if his body had taken a sigh of relief and we hugged and he felt better and happier and more positive and a big thank you and love you from him and he went about his business with an air of positivness that was not present before.

What did I magically do to my child to make him transform this way? Nothing special, I just LISTENED.

You know we as parents so badly want to ensure that our children grow up to be amazing adults who take on the world and make a difference. Who thorugh their achievements make us burst with pride. Parents advise, push, cajole and mould our children to what we think they should be, but what we don't do is simply listen.

When my kids were born I swore that I would do what my parents didn't do, that is not to judge them, criticise them, control them and finally not listen to them. And I can truthfully say that I have done this. It may have been hard and sometimes frustrating, but in the end it was so well worth it.

I put into practice a theory I had read in Dale Carnegie's book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" which I read when I was teenager. It's basic principle is to listen. When a person and in this case, a chld want's to talk, they don't want to hear your opinion, they only want that you listen to them. They want a sounding board and someone who won't judge them.

Of course you may not like what they say, but what they say should never be dismissed or put down. It is their view, their words, their opinion and right or wrong, it belongs to them, not you. I have always said to my chldren that who they see in the mirror is the person they need to impress and who they need to be true to. So if they say something that they may think I might not like or agree with, hey, so what. It is their view and their opinion.

If their view is deemed wrong becuase of lack of information and based on a prejudice, then I wont say that they don't know what they are talking about or put them down saying that they are wrong, I will ask questions that I know the answers to based on their view in the hope that they will see by their own answers that maybe they should re-think.

Another relative spoke to my son and talked for about 15 minutes. He never once listened to my son, he just spoke of his experiences and his views. If that was you in that same position, would you listen or take note of they said? You wouldn't because you would just tune out and all what they said would be just become a string of words and the meaning would be lost.

The greatest gift we can give our chldren is the knowledge that they are loved unconditionally. If they feel that from the moment they are born. If they are listened to from the moment they are born and don't be fooled into thinking that toddlers don't see you for who you are. They can see it but they may not be able to express it.

If you listen to your chldren and accept that what they say is their view and not yours. If you accept that their view is important to them. If they know that whatever they do or whatever they feel they know that they can come to you and you will listen to them. Then they will do just that. They will come to you in the good times and the times when they feel the world and they are disconnected.

You may not able to make it all ok, but you will let them know that you care about what they say and feel, without being judgemental. Of course look for the warning signs and go with your gut feeling if all is not right and you know they are not telling you something.

If you start listening to them at a young age, they will always talk to you, even as teenagers, the worst non-communicative time in life. Always be ready to listen to them. They don't want your views or opinions only if they ask for it, so don't give it. Ask questions that will make them think and let them get the answers that you are hoping for. For then they go away feeling better and more confident within themselves. But what they will go away with is the knowledge that you were there. Just there to listen to them.

It may not fix everything, but it goes a long, long way to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. I am not a pshychologist or anything like that, I am just a mother who loves her children unconditionally and know the supreme value in just listening.

Street Talk

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