People will pay hundreds of dollars to therapists just to be heard.  Actually, a therapist does not only listen.  They also make the client feel held of and regarded.  Every human being has a need to be listened to.  Both in smaller families but even more so in bigger families we hope that each child feels they have a voice and also an audience.

It takes an enormous amount of energy to be an audience.  When we attend a performance we do not think of laundry, cooking or other household duties.  We are focused, absorbed, silent.  In this mode we are able to enjoy what we are taking in, undistracted.

One of the proofs of doing a good job of listening is if subsequently we feel somewhat tired or drained. To give attention exclusively we must try to remain silent until our children have completed to articulate their thoughts.  It is so tempting to advise them as opposed to genuinely trying to understand them.  It is even harder to hold back facial expressions and gestures that reflect our disapproval.  (We are already assuming that correcting a child’s grammar and the like is not congruent with effective listening).

 A suggested tip for self-introspection on listening skills is when you engage in dialogue with people are you thinking of what they are saying or what you are going to respond?  Our children know when we are genuinely attentive and when we are only present in namesake. 

The less we interrupt, judge, respond too logically or reprimand our children when they share information with us, the more walls of communication are broken down.  It is repelling to a child and they may be less eager to shmooze with us in the future. 

Sometimes we do need to be mechanech our children as a result of information they have shared with us.  We must carefully choose when to do so but work on making it a vast minority.  95% of our relationship should be about communicating.

At the end of the show when the cast members leave our home one day, they will remember the audience they once had.  If the audience was attentive and uncritical the actors and actresses will want to “perform” repeatedly and will probably advance in each act to follow.  The audience will feel deep gratification and know that the time, money and energy invested was totally worthwhile.

 

And as for the final applause…HaKadosh Baruch Hu is undoubtedly in true admiration and will surely request an encore!

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