Deeply listening to our children can be extremely challenging.
While your child is sharing something, are you thinking about what you want to tell them or how they need to be? I am.
Example: My daughter is venting about someone in our neighborhood. She’ll be going on and on about how they’re this, they’re that, how she doesn’t like them. Inside I’m feeling discomfort and a desire to contradict her story bubbles up. So instead of opening to what’s underneath the narrative, which is she FEELS powerless, helpless, and therefore doesn’t feel seen, heard or understood, I try to convince her that they are trying really hard, they had a difficult upbringing and she should be nice to them.
Out of my discomfort, I try to talk her out of what she is saying. I’m not actually listening to her I can only think about me.
The next time your child is telling you something, just notice -Are you already trying to fix it, change it, or talk them out of it?
We’re all trained to do this. Picture when you’re trying to share something with your partner or a friend You’re wanting to hear yourself, and longing to share. They start rationalizing with you or trying to fix or change you or even worse tell you how you feel. What happens? Does it make you crazy? It does me. I’m not asking to be changed. I’m asking to be heard. I want to be seen, heard and understood. PERIOD!
When your child expresses big feelings, notice your internal story and yet stay with the feelings. If you get caught up in the story of the big feeling, you’ll want to talk to the story instead of being with the feelings. It’s easier to fix or change the story because we don’t know how to truly be present when BIG feelings arise.
Check it out. When you feel powerless, helpless or rejected by your child, notice your narrative. Is it that you are a victim? Instead of getting caught on the narrative, stay with the feelings and say to yourself “Well, of course, this is difficult for you, you really wanted your child to listen to you.”
Do the same with your child such as: ” well, of course, you don’t like that person. Of course, it’s difficult because you don’t feel seen by her. You don’t feel heard. I see you.”
When listening and talking to the feeling, it doesn’t mean you are believing or not believing the story, agreeing with or not agreeing with it. You are making space to listen.
This week, when your child has a hard day and they’re complaining, instead of trying to convince them to be different or talk them out of it, try saying” Tell me more”.
Open up to seeing, hearing, and understanding the feelings, not the story. Go slowly, because we always want to grab onto the story, and if we see it as a problem, we think we can fix it. In time, you’ll be able to stay present and truly listen.
Feelings don’t need to be fixed. They want to be heard.