talk less and listen more

Last night I needed to talk less and listen more.

My family knows that I am not at my best at night. I am tired and sensitive. And yet it’s bedtime that my children often want to talk. Sometimes I can barely handle it. I get more easily triggered. I don’t respond well. I take their moods, anxieties, frustrations, etc waaaaay too personally. 

Last night we were getting into bed and my son shared some things with me and I just about lost it.  I was triggered. He is a tween and we are negotiating privileges, freedom, expectations, and responsibilities. 

And then my husband came in because I could not handle it. (Yeah, I know.  You might think, “She called in her husband?! That’s not too ‘woman strong’ of her.” Well, I know my limits and I know my resources. And at 945 at night, I am maxed out. And he is a night owl and is soooo much more able to see the bigger picture after 8 pm. Yes, 8 pm. If you have issues, I need you to talk about them before 8 pm!  Or wake up at 6 am and then you can talk to me all morning about this!  I tell my clients who come from all over the world that I do not schedule any appointment after 7 pm – my time. But early morning?!  No problem. So I’ve decided to do this with my children. Talk to me before 8 pm!!!! Otherwise – dad is on.  THAT is “woman strong.”). 

Last night I realized that I had a choice of the role I was going to play. Was I going to play the “fixer”, the “this is how it’s going down” role…or just…be the “listener”?  

Well, I ended up choosing the “overwhelmed mom” role and the “listen here!” role rather than what I could’ve done had I been more resourced (ie talking in the morning): the listener. 

He just wanted someone to listen to him – to say, “I hear you” and “That sounds important to you” and “Let’s keep talking about this.”  

In these moments, we just have to forgive ourselves and begin again. So this morning…we will revisit what my son wanted to share. And we are just going to LISTEN. I AM NOT GOING TO JUSTIFY our stance or try and save him from disappointment. (Hard to do, right?!). I am just going to listen. 

That’s what is often called for with or young ones, tweens and teens. 

Just listening. 

Just saying, “I’m listening.”

Just reflecting, “This sounds important to you.”

And “thank you for sharing.”  

That’s what will happen this morning when our tween wakes up. 

Listen more. Talk less. 

Try it out with your own tween or teen.  Sometimes it’s necessary to just stop talking and listen.

Here’s what you can do to Talk Less and Listen More:
  1. Listen.  Stop talking.  Don’t interrupt.  Don’t justify.
  2. Reflect their feelings.
  3. Show them with your body language that you are present.
  4. Tell them that what they are sharing is important.

Your opinion and final decision may not change.  That’s fine.  They may not “get” what they want (the video game that “everyone else has,” to stay up late, a new cell phone). But you will be giving them what they NEED – regard and presence.

We want our kiddos to keep coming to us and sharing with us – the little stuff and the big stuff. They need to know they’ll be heard and regarded.   When we talk less and listen more, we show our children that they matter, they belong, and they are loved. 

So this morning, I’m much more resourced to just listen.  That’s what we’ll be doing when our tween wakes up.


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