Parental Listening Skills ~ 02-20-2022

As a parent . . . I am certain there have been numerous times you just wanted to kick yourself in the butt for what came out of your mouth, based upon what came out of the mouth(s) of your children [after-the-fact].

The year was 1997 . . .

My ex-husband and I were in the throes of an extremely nasty Change in Custody situation . . . the divorce alone was a tumultuous time in all our lives and the nastiness continued throughout Family Service visits in the basement of the Courthouse and right into and through the entire Child Custody Study.

One Saturday morning [during visitation] my youngest son shuffled into the Kitchen, sat down at the table and after watching me for a few moments, asked, “Mom? Can we do (blah blah blah) today?”  I’ll assume my answer was, “Maybe later.”, because the response I received was a disheartened child’s reply of, “That means we won’t . . . “, as his disappointingly voice trailed off. I whipped right around and said,
“No, it just means not right now; we’ve got other things planned for today.”  He said, “Well, when Dad says ‘maybe later’, it always means maybe never.”

My reply? “I am not your Dad! Please do not assume my actions will be the same as his. If we get everything that’s planned for today, done, then yes, we can go do what you’re asking. If not, I’ll adjust tomorrow’s schedule. Is that good?” “Yes. Thanks Mom! I Love You!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Truly, as parents, we need to be attuned to what our children say, and the manner in which it’s said. Their perception of our words, our actions . . . do they match? What are we teaching them with our words versus our actions? Everything we do, and say, and promise . . . . molds them, teaches them how to perceive the world, how to perceive people in general.

Is it possible we unknowingly hurt our children time and again by our hurried lives and quick, not well thought out answers, to quench their thirsty questions for the moment?

I remember being hurt by my own mother’s words. I asked her once why? “Why, if your folks said and did those things to you and you were hurt by them, why would say them to me?” I was rather flabbergasted by her answer, and trust me when I tell you I was a grown women with teenagers when I asked. Her answer? “Because it was easier than changing it.” Wow! Can you imagine being emotionally hurt and projecting those same feelings onto your children rather than changing it?

When I need to discuss something with my children, I always start out with, “So as not to sound like my Mother . . . .”, then continue with, “. . . . but we need to discuss what you did, why you did it, and find a better solution for next time, okay?”

PS: I ended up a single mother of 2 teenage boys; my ex passed 2 years after the divorce, and 2 weeks after the Child Custody Study Report was released.

~ JA 2022


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