“Hey… how was your day?”
“What did you get up to?”
“Who did you play with?”
Parents come from all walks of life and have many differing ideas when it comes to parenting and how it should be done but there are a few common themes. We all basically want the best for our children (as wide and varied as that may look) and we want to have open communication with them. We know that’s one of the best assurances to their well-being, knowing they can talk to us about anything BUT (as we see above and in video below) that can be easier said than done.
At the cornerstone of creating and keeping communication lines open is connection. Connection is what makes our children choose between their will and ours and it becomes more and more important as they get older. So I highly recommend getting on top of these jumping off points to empathic child-rearing and Special Time, Staylistening and Roughhousing.
I’ve had this chat with other parents before. This concept is so key to us because we know how necessary it will be going forward. I have shared with friends and in my Listening Partnerships how much I want my children to feel free to tell me anything and how my eldest seems to be slipping further and further away from that reality.
But there’s a lesson I seem to be destined to learn time and time again… “Expectation is the enemy of contentment”. I get very bogged down in how I think things should look and play out. So much so that I often miss the truth.
I was talking to a friend about some of the goings on at school which my daughter had told me about and she said to me “See?! My daughter would never tell me that stuff! I have no idea what’s going on!”
I thought about that later and I thought about this message I had kept telling myself and believing that my daughter doesn’t open up to me and where it was coming from and I realised that I was using the opening example as a benchmark when the reality is that when someone asks me about my day just after they arrive I’m often not that keen to chat about it. Sometimes it seems arbitrary or perfunctory but later on in the interaction I may remember something that I want to share and open a dialogue myself when I’m feeling relaxed and connected and that person has shown more than a courteous interest in me and my day.
I still ask how my children’s day was and may ask for a detail or two but then I wait or I connect with some Special Time and find that they will give me more information later. Often if they’ve had a bad day, they might give me that information through their off-track behaviour and may reveal more after some Staylistening (or they may be more than happy after I have lovingly listened to their off-loading of emotions to never discuss whatever happened again and that’s ok too).
The other thing to bear in mind is that we are not (and some of us have never been) tween girls or young boys so whilst we may be being told something that seems irrelevant or no big deal, our children feel whatever they are telling us is important to them in some way. It may have had a big impact on their day or their social life.
Recently, my daughter has been sharing daily updates on a situation and luckily I realised that this is exactly what I have been hoping for this whole time but I was aware someone else listening may have dismissed the “drama” as rather insignificant. Instead I felt myself aglow with the joy that this is what I have been waiting for and I tuned in and listened in a connected way, being sure not to offer advice unless asked and just showing my child my warm, connected interest in her day-to-day challenges.
I was thrilled with myself for recognising that this was her letting me into her world and showing that she can share with me and I was glad to have seen that win for what it was and not trying to tell my daughter that her issues were not that serious or to have some perspective (as I would have been told myself).
I was able to celebrate that there was a door to a wild and wonderful world open to me and I am going to proceed with care, knowing what a privilege it is to be invited inside!
With love and an open heart and mind,
Aunty Ask xx xx xx