Listening Enhances the Spirit
Listening can be one of the easiest and yet most profound things we do as parents. It doesn't take any special equipment, degrees, muscles, or credit cards. It's not difficult to weave authentic listening throughout our busy everyday routines, and the benefits, both for us and our kids, are lasting.

When we listen, we bring forth and hold the sacredness of our children. We are reminded to stay in the moment, give from our hearts, go beyond self-imposed limitations, and open ourselves to a more expansive universe. Listening lets our kids know they are valued and gives us treasured insight into their very being. The vital decision to listen can dissolve any distance between us and our kids.

What Might We Hear?
Our children tell us things we once knew but have pushed aside, forgotten. We who have lived a while miss a great deal of what goes on around and within us. A child sees things in his world that we may not be able to see. Talking about what he senses to a receptive adult gives his world a voice and gives the child a vocabulary for his rich experiences and esoteric ideas.

When children are "heard and seen," instead of "seen and not heard," they will naturally express their feelings. Be a parent to whom your child can trust her feelings. A trusting child feels free enough to share. Through this sharing her spirit is nourished and her beliefs are formed.

How Can We listen?
Here are some ideas on how you might begin listening to your child:

  • Establish specific times your child can count on being heard: Saturday morning walks, bath time, waiting for the school bus, at the dinner table, throwing the ball.

  • Designate certain listening places: a specific cozy chair, the porch swing.

  • Many families find the quiet time before children fall asleep to be special listening time. You can call it "pillow talk" for your young child.

  • Attend to the silences, to the unspoken messages your child gives you.

  • Wish upon a star with your child. Listen to his wish.

  • The next time your child has something to tell you, listen as if she were a national hero, a spiritual prophet, or your boss. Listen as if she came down from Mars, has the future of the world stored in her mind, or knows the cure for cancer.

  • Don't forget to pay attention to the "toss away" statements your child makes.

  • Teach less--listen more.

  • Begin writing letters to your kids. This can be an ongoing, back-and-forth way to listen. E-mail is fine if that works for your older children. Often kids can write things they can't find the words for.
  • E-mail Mimi Doe.

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