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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Listen to your Children

Thursday, August 19, 2010
Recently there was a comment on Facebook about listening to children. More specifically how many parents just don't do it often enough. So I have decided to repost and article from a newsletter series I ran a while ago.

I didn't start this project with the intent of following any special order in the days, but I felt that this should be the first exercise, because if you can not Listen then there is no hope for change. However, listening alone is not enough: for to truly Listen one must also Hear. Oftentimes words alone can not accurately describe the true intent of what is being said. Just remember that Listening and Hearing aren't always just about words. The silence and the silent movements of a person, more often than not, mean more than the words.

I'm sure we can all think about conversations that we either have walked away from or been tripped up by later, that we wish had just gone better. Maybe we had not listened well enough or maybe we wish the other person had done the same. If you are anything like me, then it was more probably both. We are so wrapped up in our own lives, and our own sets of problems that we often fail to pay attention to anything else other than our own solutions.

I think that we can all see how this could be a problem in creating a Stronger and more Spiritual Family. If we cannot understand each other and refuse (or do not know how) to listen to each other then how can we be on the same page? And if we can not find the common ground through conversation then how can we set family goals and be united in accomplishing them and supporting each other through all the trials and tribulations?

A failure to Listen can also cause us to miss out on possibly better solutions to our problems, that other people could possibly share with us. This can also cause huge misconceptions and possibly marital grief or strife. The solutions to all these problems is a simple one, easily said; 'Learn to cultivate the act of Listening and Hearing'.

Now the question come up, "How does one go about cultivating the act of Listening? The act of Hearing?"

Well here are some tips that I hope can answer those questions adequately.

First, you need to be present in the conversation and avoid distractions. If it helps, cut off the television and/or the radio. Take a moment to breathe and refocus, and remember that your focus should be solely on the other person.

Second, you need to keep an open mind. Do not let your preconceptions or misconceptions cloud how or what you hear the other person saying. I'm sure we can all think back to conversations that we have participated in, where one of the parties (or both) swear up and down that they heard something that the other person knows they didn't say. This is particularly frustrating when it happens between two partners, because if it is not caught early then they both act under false assumptions.

An open mind is also important because we, as humans, tend to tune out and not 
listen when we disagree with something. This obviously defeats the purpose of Listening.

Third, we need to take a moment to refrane or rephrase. You can say something like, "I believe I understand you. Did you mean to say..." and then rephrase what they said. This helps to clarify and solidify understanding, which is important to effective Listening and Hearing.

Now for the exercise part; Take some time today and actually try to listen to your partner when they talk to you. If you want, share this article with your partner and see if you both can work on your listening skills. Trust me it is easier than I have made it seem here. This should not be a single day project but an ongoing practice.

Also this can not just be about the adults in the family, make sure to take time to listen to your children as well. I know it is an old cliché but out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom. Children can often times see to the bottom of an issue, looking right through all the fluff and pre tense that people carry as a big shield to protect them from the rest of the world.

Blessed Be!

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