Can You Hear Me Now?
A strange phenomenon sometimes occurs inside my car. I, behind the wheel, concentrate on the road, intent on reaching our destination safely. My daughter, in the passenger seat, skips through 80’s music or scrolls through her Instagram feed. Then suddenly it happens. She begins to talk.
Not the kind of talk where she just says words: Are we there yet?…I’m hungry...Will you take me to a Fleetwood Mac concert?
No, it’s the kind of talk where her heart opens up a little bit, and words leak out, meaningful words, or worried words, sometimes even painful ones.
She crosses the line she has drawn –you know, that one that separates independence-seeking kids from control-freaky moms. And she lets me into her world–into her worries, her dreams, her wonders, her schemes.
And I listen, acutely aware of the precious event unfolding. I soak it in quietly, occasionally asking a question which I’ve first thoroughly examined to ensure it’s not too invasive. Because I know a wrong word…or a sneeze…or a bug splattering on the windshield could end this phenomenon in a millisecond. And I don’t want to miss even that much of the closeness my daughter and I share in these moments.
My reflection on these car conversations was prompted by a quote I read last week:
“Being heard is so close to being loved that for most [kids], it is indistinguishable.”–David Augsburger, author
Wow. Did you catch that? Indistinguishable–not able to be identified as different or distinct. To our kids, us listening to them is the same as us loving them. Wow.
Which means…us not listening to them is the same as us not loving them. Ouch. I bet this is especially true for our children whose LOVE LANGUAGE is words of affirmation. (Click to read more about words of affirmation.)
And that makes me think about another car conversation…one that happens much more often.
I’m driving down the road, concentrating on something I did or need to do, or manipulating a problem to find a solution, or wondering what in the world I’m going to blog about this week. And my daughter begins to talk.
It might be just words: Can we have nachos for supper? Why can’t I have another cat? Is Kelli coming home this weekend?
Or it might be something meaningful.
But I wouldn’t know. I’m not listening to her. Because I’m stuck inside my head, listening to myself. I fake it really well, though…with an occasional “Yeah?” or “Mm-hmm” or “Oohhh” placed at just the right spot when I hear–not her words–but a break in her words, which is my signal to respond.
At least I think I fake it really well…until she says, “I hate when you do that.”
“Do what?” Suddenly I’m fully present…and so, so innocent.
“When you say uh-huh and nod like you’re listening.”
“I am listening,” I kinda lie, because I did hear, and if I think really hard I can rewind the last 20 seconds and string some of her words together and say them back to her to prove it.
But hearing and listening are not the same, are they?
So now that thing David Augsburger said…about listening and loving being the same…has me thinking. Why don’t we listen?
Maybe because the things in our head are really important…not like that middle school he-said-she-said stuff or the never-ending high school drama.
Maybe because we live in the adult world, and we have perspective. Kid stuff that seems so earth shattering today won’t even be a memory in a year, or thirty.
Maybe because we survived it…been there, done that, wouldn’t do it again for $1 million…so our kids will survive it, too.
But to our children, that he-said-she-said never-ending drama…is really important.
And their earth is shattered TODAY. Who cares about ten years from now?
And though we may have survived it, our kids are in the fray right now–and they just might need us to love them through it.
That means we have to listen…to the little stuff and the big stuff…and maybe not talk…or be too quick to fix it. If we do talk, it’s to engage with their hearts…or to validate their feelings…or to help them see if their perspective is skewed.
And you know what else I realized? When I’m driving down the road, concentrating on whatever, and my daughter starts to talk–the phenomenon might not be that she opens up–but that I actually listen.
Do you believe our kids think listening to them and loving them is almost the same? What do you think keeps us from listening? Do have a strategy to ensure you listen when your kids talk? Comment below (and improve your chances of winning the October give-away)!
The MOM Journey News
Have you seen the MAYA HOPE give-away on my Facebook page? Hubby and I met Dr. Tim Browne and his wife Julie at a writing conference. They sold everything and traveled to under-developed countries where Tim performed surgery to correct deformities in children. Then he wrote a book–a medical thriller! He sent one to me…and one for YOU…so visit my FB page to enter the give-away! Also, check out Tim and Julie’s amazing story HERE.
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