Our first born, Lil, (who is 10) just so happens to be on the shy side, and wasn't born with the gift for gab like her momma. (Lucky For Her!) As we move into the preteen years, I know I need to get her talking to me more and more. Our relationship (in all honesty) started out rocky, but has been growing and growing these past few years. She used to tell me almost nothing and now it feels more like non-stop chatter, which I DO love, even in house where I get "Moooooom"ed to death.
I've read this over and over, but have been too lazy to make it happen. Go into their room at night, just before bed, and lay down to listen to them.
At the end of the day, when all I've wanted was alone time to veg out on my phone or watch TV, I started out "making myself" go in and lay down with her (and her siblings) with the goal of simply "listening." We usually turn off the lights and just have on a nightlight and if I lay there long enough, all the details will slowly start to spill out. I once read or heard that it's easier to spill your guts if your not looking at someone right in the eyes in the broad daylight, and with her, I believe it's true. Other girls may spill the beans regardless of the conditions.
Instead of inserting my own opinions, I try to simply say, "So, how do you feel about that?" or "So, what do you think?"
Sometimes I'll ask specific questions like.... Is there anything you need? Is anything bothering you? Are you worried about anything? What are you excited about? but I really just wanted to know what is rolling around in their heart and what's on their mind.
My goal is to let her know that I care about her and what's happening in her life. Big things and little things. I often hear, If you don't make time to listen to the little things, they won't really trust that you care to hear about the big things? I'd say that that is true.
To be perfectly honest, I don't lay down with them every night. If I can be with each of them a few nights a week, that's progress! Last night (Tuesday) she told me about all sorts of things that happened over the weekend while she was out with friends. Sometimes I think they need time to process their own life before they are ready to share it.
So, Why haven't I been doing this all along?
There are a few SAD but easy answers. 1. My phone. That thing is a trap. I could get lost on blogs, social media, and podcast for hours. 2. I'm Tired. Hello! I've had 4 babies in 8 years. My old self was focused on ME, ME, ME and what I wanted, but I'm always trying to make progress on loving others better. 3. Lack of wisdom. I knew I wanted an open, honest, on-going sweet relationship with my kids, but didn't really know how to make it happen. Truthfully, it can be hard for us to think past our own immediate needs and feelings long enough to problem solve about what other's need. Through a ton of reading parenting books, listening to parenting podcast and bible studies, and reading parenting blogs, I've been basically knocked over the head with the concept of "MAKE TIME TO BE WITH THEM. TO LISTEN." and I think all of those much wiser people were right.
Last night I was reading with The Boy when Lil came into the room to ask, "How much longer until you can come and lay down with me?" To which he quickly responded, "Sunshine's already called for her Next!" I am so thankful that we've reached the point that she is anxiously waiting to talk to me. When I finally made my way to her, she was ready! And she talk-talk-talked until she fell asleep!
Moms. Dads. Do it. Forget about your show. (At least for tonight) Leave your phone in another room, you know you can't resist the dings and flashes. Just be there. Listen. Make sure they do more talking than you. It won't happen on the first try, but eventually, you'll be in the know. And it will feel SO good to LOVE (and listen) WELL.