In tonight's Mindful Parenting Group, one thing that came up was the frustration parents often experience when our kids don't listen to us. Why won't my kid just do what I ask her to do when I ask her to do it? Which can spin off in our minds in 100 different ways -- He's not listening to me! He is doing that on purpose to drive me crazy! Or, she never listens to me! It's because I am an ineffective parent! Or -- My kid has a serious listening problem! What is wrong with him? We look for somewhere to lay the blame, and our options are few - it's them, or us.
By bringing our attention to this question of listening for a moment, rather than trying to problem solve, or come up with a successful strategy, we can just look more deeply and see what we find.
Listening. What is that about? What does listening entail? We might imagine being our child and ask ourselves: What makes me want to listen to someone? There are many things to discover there (Is what we're asking necessary? Relevant? Are we interrupting them in thought/activity, and if so, are we doing it with respect for what they're doing? Are we making eye contact while talking to them?) but beneath it all, I think we find that we want to listen to someone who is listening to us. By whom we feel listened to. And not only listened to but seen. Paid attention to. And not once in a while, or sometimes, or usually, but also, right now. In this moment.
I was struck as we sat tonight by the way in which I felt like my body appreciated being noticed, that the sensations arising, of tension or tightness, were being acknowledged, and paid some mind. That, not just my body, but the sensations themselves appreciated being attended to.
Our children are similar, I think. We can take them for granted the way we take for granted the sensations in our bodies that arise over and over again. But the ever-shifting aliveness that is in each of our bodies and selves, and in each of our children, asks to be acknowledged, and listened to, no matter how great or small, in every possible moment.
So, in asking why our children aren't listening to us, we might also ask, "Are we listening to them?"
Have a look! See what you find.