I Hear You Talking…

One of my favorite expressions of late is “I hear you talking.” I use this phrase often, mostly to other adults in casual conversation. I usually say it in a joking way to say – I hear you talking but you are not saying anything or I hear the words you are saying but I am not processing any information or even I hear you talking but I am not listening. Yes, hearing and listening are different.

In Parenting For Dummies, by Sandra Hardin Gookin, she says “Hearing is different than listening. You can be hearing what your children are saying but you may not be listening. Hearing means that the noise is hitting your eardrum. Listening means that you understand what they’re saying or even what they’re not saying, but are really meaning.”

As parents, we have to ask ourselves, are we listening to our children or simply hearing them talk? Sometimes our lives are busy and we are stressed out or we are tired or one of a million other reasons and we find ourselves just hearing them talk. They ramble on and on and we “uh huh” and “oh really” and “yeah” at what we hope are appropriate times as we continue whatever task we were doing before we were “interrupted.”

Let’s be real. Sometimes as single parents, we find ourselves out of time. It also seems like sometimes our children can pick the absolute worst times to talk. As busy, tired, and overwhelmed as we are, it is still important to remember that children, all children, need to know they are listened to. It’s even more important for them to know that we are listening.

Communication is important at any age but, during the challenging teen years, effective communication is the key to success. Establishing effective communication practices early in childhood will help you avoid the challenge of trying to open the door to an uncommunicative teen.

Therefore, whatever the age, start listening to them now. Did you know that listening, not talking is the most important communication tool? So listen. Listen as often as they talk. Listen no matter what the subject matter. Listen, listen, listen. Listen to your son as he gives you the entire history of Play Station and why it is such a necessary element in his world. Listen to your daughter as she keeps you up to date on all the latest happenings at her school. Listen to your children as they give you the blow by blow account of the cartoon they just watched, even though you watched it with them. Listen, listen, and listen. Investing the time to listen to your child today will pay off in a big way tomorrow.

Remember, practicing good listening skills with your child will help them to remember to use good listening skills with you.

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