I’ve been doing a little experiment lately: Every time one of the children chooses to confide in me, I do my utmost best to remain all ears. This simple mindfulness test has turned out to be more challenging than I had initially anticipated, yet also more rewarding.
The intention is to stay fully focused and concentrated, and to really listen to the message. This includes being aware of their facial expressions, body language, intonation, etc. It also means that I have to try and suspend my own judgement even if what I hear is something I disagree with or disapprove of.
Keeping my mind from wandering to what still ‘needs doing’, has been relatively easy within the context of this experiment. How long I can keep that up, remains to be seen. The hardest part, however, has been to steer clear of my own agenda. To truly listen, I have to let go of the need to interrupt, take control, provide advice, fix things, agree or disagree.
So, what are my findings after this very non-scientific bit of research, you may wonder? Well, the moments where I have actually managed to remain silent, focused and non-judgemental while they were confiding in me, have turned out to be rather magical. Realising that their story wasn’t going to be immediately squashed or frowned upon, they have truly opened up and revealed their feelings.
As a parent, it is hard not to claim ownership of our children’s emotions and to try and fix them. But rather than fixing things, shouldn’t we strive to provide a platform – even if occasionally a bit wobbly – where they feel safe to confide in us without fearing our condescending or condemning judgement?
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