As a mom of two teen boys I never imagined ever hearing the words, “Mom it’s really easy to talk to you” coming from their lips. Recently that is what both have shared with me on a few separate occasions.
Honestly speaking, at first I thought they were up to something, plotting to ask me permission for something out of the ordinary or setting me up to confess something big that they had done wrong … But instead I came to realize that my boys were sharing something important on their minds and in their hearts.
They found me easy to talk to! Me the great advisor, the professional problem solver, the mom with all the right answers, the COACH (titles they had often sarcastically given me). After some personal reflection it suddenly occurred to me why my teenage boys found sharing with me easy.
In my work as Life Coach at the Kripalu Center for Yoga, I have spent the past year conducting weekly classes called “Share.” The intension in this class is to give individuals the opportunity to share whatever is on their minds and hearts without interruptions, advice, guidance or judgment. The listeners practice just listening. They don’t have to fix, save or offer any solutions; so simple, yet so brilliantly powerful.
That is what I subconsciously have been practicing with my children and it seems to have worked. As a result of not constantly offering solutions, feeling the need to fix or save them, I magically empowered them to witness their own selves, solve their own problems and decide what they personally needed to feel happy, safe, heard and cared for. Honestly this practice of just listening has made my job as a parent so much easier.
This month I invite you to adopt this method of interacting with your children. The next time they come to you with a problem or concern or thought, simply just listen. Make sure you maintain eye contact, but try not making approving or disapproving facial expression. If a question arises practice not giving them the answer, instead see if they can figure it out on their own by responding, “What do you think?” or “What would feel right for you?” If they are crying or expressing anger, try not to get up in the emotions with them. I love using the “share” method during dinner, when they are describing their daily experiences; it’s amazing what they will talk about when they feel safe and heard.
My only word of caution is to be aware that they may find it so easy to share with you that you’ll find them sharing too much — more than you need to know! We’ll leave that problem for another month.
Here’s to Listening!