Are you listening, or are you just hearing? If you are just hearing, are you absorbing?
I’ve actually written a Listen post, but I suppose an updated one may be in order. I feel like I have been suddenly thrust into a whole new set of parenting rules, even though it’s been less than ten years since I did this last time, I seem to have forgotten. Every teen is different. Every child is different. Listening to a toddler is a thousand times different from listening to a teenager.
It’s hard to listen to older children. Sometimes, I just have no idea what they are rambling on about, and sometimes I want them to talk to be about things they have no interest in saying just yet.
I recently spent two weeks fighting with my teenager over something stupid. It got to the point that as parents we couldn’t back down or it would give him the power. He wouldn’t back down because he felt invalidated that we wouldn’t back down. All over an activity. If he has spoken better, if we had listened better. But even sitting down with him, lowering my voice, quietly asking him exactly why it was stupid, exactly why it wasn’t fun, exactly what he felt a good alternative activity would be, neither one of us was listening very well.
This led to me bribing my child. I can’t call it anything else. I bribed him to participate in an activity he has deemed “stupid”, “not fun”, “it hurts” and “it’s too strict” and to shut up about it. I know it hurts. It hurts because it’s exercise, not because it’s torture, and if you would stop and really try to do it for eight weeks, I bet at the end of four weeks half of your complaints would go away.
All because neither of us were listening to what the other had to say.
On the flip side, it’s been about eight weeks since he started said activity. While he hasn’t found a great love of it, he has stopped whining about it and seems to be liking it a little more than he did at the beginning. I suspect that even if he finds he loves it he will never admit it to me.