How Children Turn Out when Parents Listen to Their Feelings

brothers2I have been listening to my son’s feelings for several years now. He is now 7 years old, and is able to listen really well to his brother who is 6 years younger.

When our younger son was about 6 months old, we were driving in the car and he started to cry. I think he wanted to get out of the car seat. He was facing the rear, and our older son was facing forward. The baby was crying pretty hard and I thought I'd better pull over because I didn't want my older son to get irritated at the baby.

Then I heard him say in a very gentle voice to his little brother, “I'm right here. You're not alone.”

I said, “Do you want me to pull over, son?” He said, “No. He's okay. He just needs to see someone’s face while he gets some feelings out.”

I have seen the baby, who is now 21 months, get hurt and start to cry and his brother will get in real close with him, hold him, and make eye contact while he listens to him cry. He is very relaxed and in no rush to get him to stop. He also knows enough to say when he doesn't want to listen and will walk away when he sees that his brother is in good hands.

They have their moments when they don't get along, but the listening that my son has experienced has helped him be so compassionate and sweet with his brother. I am so pleased that the tools have had this effect on my son.

– Kirsten Nottleson, a mother and Hand in Hand Instructor, in Austin, TX

2 thoughts on “How Children Turn Out when Parents Listen to Their Feelings”

  1. What a sweet and inspiring message. My oldest is 4, and has been listened to most of his life, and I am beginning to see him listen to his younger sister (2 yrs), or even set limits with her in a kind and gentle way! Not always the case, but so heart warming to observe when it does.
    I love being inspired by our children don’t you?
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Julianne Idleman

    From the author:

    Wow! I haven’t read this story in many years. It just came up connected to a FB post by Kathy Gordon.

    I have an update on those two brothers, from JUST a couple days ago…

    My youngest, who is now 12 years old, has had a pretty scary early adolescent thing happen involving some friends at school. Something where he needs lots of love and support and my husband and I have been working to provide that.

    One afternoon a few days back I got even more scary information about the situation and later that night, as I was driving his 18-year-old brother somewhere, I just felt I had to tell him what was going on. Mind you, he is a senior in High School, nearing graduation, lots going on, and he mostly likes to be with his peers, understandably.
    After I talked to him about his brother, he was sort of quiet, and said, “Wow. That sounds really tough. That sucks for him.” Then he was quiet again, thinking. Then he said, “I’m going to just spend a whole bunch of time with him right now. I think that would help. I’ll take him places, and we’ll hang out. I’ll take him for drives.”

    And he has done that. It is incredible. My younger son is eating it up. There’s been lots of sweet laughter and tussling in our house. And I know it’s good for my older one, too. In this time when it is a challenge for our children to feel like they can contribute to the world. Or to feel like they matter. I loved that my 18-year-old could tell that HIS LOVE matters.

    I am so grateful for having been able to raise my boys this way. It’s amazing to me that THAT was his response. He thought right away about how important connection is, and that he had that to offer his brother as he was struggling with some growing up stuff.

    Thank you, Hand in Hand.

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