I remember when my daughter was little she used to chatter on and on and had all manner of important things to tell me – at great length. I’d listen, but sometimes I felt like I didn’t have the time. I had meals to cook, and work to do, and other children to attend to, and, and, and…
Then one day when she was in full flow I caught myself mentally list-making and I stopped.
I stopped and I knelt down so that I could be on her level and I asked her to start again, so that I could hear her properly right from the beginning. She smiled and let out a huge sigh – like I was finally giving her what she’d been trying to get from me – my undivided attention.
Mothers of teens often ask me how to get their daughters to talk to them – and I have a number of suggestions. Often I write what I most need to hear – and today I want to remind myself (and you) to listen to your daughter when she is little and don’t stop listening to her – even when what she is telling you seems inconsequential or dull. Don’t stop listening and then she is less likely to stop telling you things as she grows older. And when she’s older, listen to her even when what she is saying seems trivial. How you listen when she is telling you the mundane things will determine how willing she is to tell you about more sensitive things.
I remember how my daughter would come to me for a hug and would pull me up with, “No, a full-attention cuddle!” and I knew to drop everything, even drop the busyness inside my own head, and give her all of me.
Children know. They know if you’re really paying attention. And they know if you are listening supportively or critically. So if you really want your daughter to talk to you when she’s a teen, pay really good attention to whatever she has to say to you.
Photo: freeimages by Brotherton