It was a Saturday afternoon and my daughter (almost 10) and I were in the car on our way to meet with family for lunch. My daughter brought with her a CD we used to listen to when she was younger back when we lived in the US. (Two years ago our family moved back to Israel after living almost 9 years in the States.)
The memories brought up for her by the songs and being just the two of us in the car made my daughter feel more aware of her feelings and she started to tell me all the hard things that she’s dealing with, all the things she used to have and she now misses, and about how I was not making a good choice for her. This continued for the whole 15 minute drive.
Nothing she said was new to me, but the way she said it and the clarity in which she articulated it were very powerful. As I was listening to it all I hardly said a word. Whenever I could, I tried to look back at her and offer my eye contact, and throughout the whole time I was holding myself not to say anything. The one thing that I said only once the entire time was, “I really want you to have a good life.”
As she was talking, she wasn’t crying, but I could tell by the look on her face that she was very emotional. I can't tell you enough how hard it was to sit there and listen to all that she had to say. I felt so guilty and sad. But somehow I knew that the best thing I could offer her at that moment was my silent listening. She already knows my perspective, and I have offered her my advice and my comfort plenty of times. I couldn’t do anything to fix it, but I could offer her my loving attention.
When we got to our destination, I told her, “I love you so much, and I promise you I will think about everything you’ve told me.” She went out of the car and all I wanted to do was to stay there and cry by myself, but I knew this would have to wait for my next Listening Partnership.
The interesting thing about this event was that after those 15 minutes of sharing, ranting, accusing and longing she spent the next few days laughing hard, long, and wholeheartedly. She stayed at her grandma's, and I was told they were laughing and playing the whole time. When my husband saw her after the few weeks he hadn’t seen her, he also noticed her high spirit and her continuous laughter. I guess she felt much lighter after dumping these big rocks of feelings off her mind.
I think part of what inspired me in this Staylistening session was reading a recent blog post by Kirsten Nottelson who was telling a story of a mom in her class. This story reminded me that even when things are hard, and there isn’t much we can do to fix or solve the situation (as much as we would have liked to) our listening still goes a LONG way.
– Ravid Aisenman Abramsohn, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor in Israel