One thing I have learned while raising our daughters, is that there are moments when the only requirement of a parent is to listen. No advice, no answers, just the ability to listen with open ears while they share what’s on their heart. Sometimes to not say a word can be a challenge for me, but I’m getting better at this skill.
For many years, we teach and guide our children, being there beside them as they make decisions. Sometimes they still don’t listen and decide on their own as to what direction they will take. Although there are times it works out fine, the times that it doesn’t, they are humbled and only need your love as you guide them through the new hurdle that they face.
We desire our children the ability to cling onto every bit of wisdom we are able to provide. Although we are not perfect and have learned from our own mistakes in life, we eventually find ourselves accepting that our children will make some on their own as well. I haven’t met one person who every now and then questions the authority of the one who is guiding them. So, our children will also take in what they can comprehend and make sense of, in order to make a decision, based on their own experiences and lessons in life.
I have two daughters who live a distance away, that call frequently and will spend hours talking on the phone. Sometimes the reason of the call is for a simple question or an update as we then talk longer on a variety of other subjects. Then, I get those occasional calls that really make me laugh as they share “I don’t want your advice, just your listening ear”. One most recent was when my oldest called all excited about something good that was happening, yet when I thought the timing was right, I shared a little exciting news about my husband and I. What came next had me in stitches as she shared “Mom, although I am quite happy for you and your good news, I really called about me”. For me as a mom, I found this to be quite entertaining (now of course she didn’t warn me ahead of time that I was to only listen), which I later told her how proud I was of her to have the ability to be blunt and upfront with me.
For so many years she has listened, shared, asked for my advice and discussed a variety of topics. Sometimes we agree and sometimes not so much. Yet, when your child calls and wants to share sad, happy or wonderful news, we need to be able to listen. And when the relationship is healthy enough to do this, you find that both of you can laugh without being hurt by their direct bluntness as we slip back into the “mother zone” of unsolicited guidance.
As I reflect, I think back to my better teachers and friends, who were those that allowed me the freedom to ask questions yet not need an immediate answer, as well as make mistakes. Sometimes they would just listen, yet when unable to find the answer on my own, they would guide me. One recent teacher was a woman similar in age that sometimes would smile as she watched me think through the puzzle while coming up with the answer. She never had the need to prove herself, but rather had the desire to see me prove my own abilities in order for me to grasp the concept I was learning.
As parents, we get to enjoy the reward of discovery in our children, if we teach during their growth, humbled to listen when necessary, provide insight when asked, and to continually love unconditionally regardless of the choices that they make in life.