By Andrea McCracken
I had been parenting my daughter for 5 years and stay listening with her for 3 years before I realized the importance of being listened to myself.
During this time, I noticed a common trigger. My older daughter’s tendency to take things out of other people’s hands, especially her younger sister's and mine, caused me to have big reactions. Once, my daughter, then 4, took a toy from her baby sister while she was buckled into her car seat and she immediately began to cry. I was so triggered that I reacted physically, as if she had taken something important from me. I acted like a 3 year old would, lashing out physically, emotionally and verbally.
Later, I took some time in my listening partnership to explore this trigger and discovered deep down feelings that I didn’t know were there.
I questioned why I had these reactions. We have plenty, I fumed. I found myself thinking that there was no reason to act as if we didn't have enough, no reason for us to take food, toys, books or anything else from each other. And then I remembered my childhood and feeling we did not have “enough.”
I had a big yell and a big cry about it during my listening time, and afterward I noticed a big difference in my feelings – and in my actions with the kids.
The more I worked on the feelings with my listening partner, the more patience and love I found I could feel toward both daughters during their run-ins. I still react to these events between my two daughters, but not as strongly or uncontrollably. Now I can recognize the feelings and step away from the situation if the feelings come up.
Why It Works
Listening Partnerships are a fundamental tool allowing parents to identify their triggers, release burdens, and resolve stress, bringing lightness to their parenting. Read more about the healing power of Listening Partnerships in these posts:
- Five Minutes of Listening Turned my Day Around
- From Yelling to Connecting
- Listen to How Parenting Triggers Past Hurts (and What You Can Do About It)
- Learn how to find a listening partner in this article.
- Get our self-guided course Building a Listening Partnership here
Andrea McCracken is a candidate in the Hand in Hand Instructor Certification program.
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