I am not always great about lending a listening ear as a parent, or at least it feels like that.
Do not misunderstand me here. I am not talking about my desire or my disposition. It’s honestly a matter of time and familiarity.
Like most other parents that work, my wife and I seemingly end every day with half of our to-do list unfinished.
On top of that, I think this issue boils down to awareness and practice. You can be reactionary, or you can read a book, try to be the best version of yourself, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
We so quickly want to offer solutions when simple empathy is what is needed.
When I’m upset or hurting, the last thing I want to hear is advice, philosophy, psychology, or the other fellow’s point of view. That kind of talk makes me only feel worse than before. Pity leaves me feeling pitiful; questions put me on the defensive; and most infuriating of all is to hear that I have no reason to feel what I’m feeling. My overriding reaction to most of these responses is “Oh, forget it. . . . What’s the point of going on?” But let someone really listen, let someone acknowledge my inner pain and give me a chance to talk more about what’s troubling me, and I begin to feel less upset, less confused, more able to cope with my feelings and my problem.
-Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (Amazon)
I like how much power there is in the simple validation of emotions.
Let’s all learn how to do this better.
Their final thought:
The process is no different for our children. They too can help themselves if they have a listening ear and an empathic response. But the language of empathy does not come naturally to us. It’s not part of our “mother tongue.” Most of us grew up having our feelings denied.