Friday, November 19, 2010

Listening to what isn’t said

I surprised my daughter for lunch at her school's Thanksgiving feast. While I waited in line, two girls vied for my attention. My daughter naturally hung on my arm, claiming me as her own, but these girls still told me their stories. As they talked, I listened. I looked them in the eye. I wonder if anyone at home listens with undivided attention.

By giving them my attention this way, I validated their existence. Now, trust me, I know kids can talk, and talk, and talk … I remember my elementary teachers commenting on my report cards that I was very talkative—almost every 6 weeks! And my girls have, as my husband says, inherited my "gift of gab." But is anything more important than showing your child you care? There is so much more to their stories and tales than what is said. Listen to how they tell, their tone of voice. What details do they put in? What do they leave out? What can you learn from what they don't say?

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