Excerpts from Chapter 3
is particularly important in parental relationships with children. It comes as a
surprise to many parents that they should have to listen to their children.
They were brought up to believe that if you accept children as they are, they
will remain that way, uncivilized and undeveloped,
and that the best way to help them become something better in the future is to
state what you don't accept about them now. So, the treatment of most
parents is heavy with evaluation, judgment, criticism, preaching, moralizing,
admonishing, and commanding.
But these are all actions and attitudes which cut off effective two-way
communication between parents and children. Parents wonder why their
children will not talk to them, and they do not realize that the youngsters don't
want to be preached to, disapproved of, and put down.
Active listening is just as effective
and important with teenagers and younger
children as it is with adults, if not more so. This does not imply
permissiveness, but does require love, a real desire to hear what the child
has to say, a determination to be helpful, and a genuine ability to accept his or her
feelings. If these are present, and a parent can listen with appropriate
verbal and nonverbal responses, proper feedback, and acceptance, while at the same
time being non-judgmental, the results can be the same as in adult relationships.
The child can be freed of troublesome feelings, and is less afraid of negative
feelings in the future. A warmer, stronger relationship develops between
parent and child. Active listening
also facilitates problem-solving by the child.
And, much to the amazement of the parents, the child is more willing
to listen to parental thoughts and ideas. Shouldn't every parent want a
child who is more self-directing, responsible, and independent?