Are You Really Listening to Your Kids?



I am facilitating a conversation between a mother and

her teenage daughter.  They had attended a counseling session

the previous evening to discuss blended-family issues.  The

girl is guarded and seems discouraged.  I ask the daughter

to tell me about the session.

With downcast eyes she replies that it probably did no

good.  Her mother interrupts her to remind her how good it

could have been if only she would have opened up.  I ask the

girl to describe her feelings about the roles each family

member had played in the session.

She tells me that’s all they were doing–playing roles.

Mother immediately contradicts her, protesting that everyone

was trying to be cooperative, not faking it at all.  The girl

shuts down, clams up.  We’ll get no more commemtary from her

this day.

How often do we claim our kids will not talk to us, or

even more commonly, that they will not listen?  Do we lable

them moody or surly when grunts or even verbal abuse are

all we get when we try to communicate?

Kids say less and less as they realize each conversation

is another opportunity for parents to discredit them.  We may

believe our kids’ ideas are harmful or even morally wrong but

we will never get that point across if they feel devalued

when we talk with them.

Have you ever casually offered, “It can’t be that bad!”

when your child expresses difficulties with social situations

or peer relations?  Do you compare the awesome challenges of

your own childhood with their trivial concerns?  Do you

diminish the importance of their fears, anger or

disappointments by calling them chronic complainers?

When adults talk “at” children rather than “with” them,

they can miss important information.  Well-meaning attempts

to accentuate the positive or to encourage children to

challenge themselves and face their fears can cause kids to

stifle their attempts at self-expression.  Pushing your own

perceptions too strongly can suffocate the growth of your

child’s expressiveness.




This entry was posted in Communication, Family, Parenting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>