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What is a Listening Partnership and Why Do I Need One?

What is Hand in Hand Parenting?: Day 6


ListeningPartnership-Icon-FullColor-RGBYou’ve seen your children release their feelings of hurt and tension. They’re naturals! The minute something challenging happens, they dive right in to expel the tension. With a Listening Partnership, it’s your turn.

So, What is a Listening Partnership?

Listening Partnerships are simple to do. You choose someone you’d like to exchange listening time with. You choose your topic and the time you'd like and then, quite simply, you talk. Pick someone you trust, or someone you think will be a good listener. You don’t have to know them well; all that’s required is that they have an interest in parenting well.

You’ll find that being listened to will refuel your energy for parenting. Refreshed, it will be easier to connect with your child. Solutions to the problems that weigh on your mind will come along.

As you and your listening partner come to rely on one another’s attention and respect, trust will build and positive change will follow.

Look out for the telltale signs that emotional burdens are lifting:

  • Talking, Thinking, and Reviewing your Experience as you absorb the warm attention of a listener releases mild tension
  • Laughter helps the two of you connect and brush away fears
  • Crying provides an outlet for your grief, and gives you more slack for fresh insights
  • Trembling and Perspiring might happen as you tell about hard times
  • Tantrums help blast away frustration, so it’s easier to try and try again
  • Yawns might occur as your body relaxes, signalling that your system is shifting from “on guard” to “A-OK” status

Making Listening Partnerships Work

There are two ways to make this tool work. You start by setting up a Listening Partnership regularly to develop your skills, review how things are going, and learn to offload the stress of parenting instead of letting it pile up. Then, when you’ve developed trust and some skill with a listener or two, you can use a Listening Partnership on the spur of the moment. The two of you can agree to call or text one another, requesting Listening Time when you otherwise might explode at your children or others close to you.

Whether you use a Listening Partnership regularly or add a “red button” feature to your relationship, you agree to an equal exchange. You’ll always give listening time in return, if not that very moment.

Many parents call on their Listening Partners for five minutes of tension release several times a week. This can turn your day around. Through Listening Partnerships you can explore and relieve all of the stress and challenges that parenting brings on, and even uncover reasons you respond to your children in ways that you don't understand.

Here's How it Can Work:

Mother reading a book with her laughing child

“My daughter had started using the phrase, “It’s not fair!” quite a lot at home. Each time she said it I felt triggered. I found myself either ranting at her or clamming up and ignoring her complaints. I was the middle child in my family, and I remember the “It’s not fair!” feeling well. I knew that I needed some listening time on this so I could work through my own feelings. I knew that this would help me be able to think and act more clearly to help my daughter.

I set up a Listening Partnership and began by talking about how hard it is for me when I hear my daughter say, “It’s not fair!” As I spoke, my Listening Partner asked me what I had needed to hear when I was a child. I began to cry as heaviness came over me, and I said, “I just want to be heard. I just want someone to say, “Yeah, it can feel unfair sometimes. I’m sorry you are feeling bad.” My Listening Partner then said these words to me with such compassion and warmth that my tears kept falling. I felt decades worth of feelings dissolve as I soaked in those words I had been longing to hear.

The next time my daughter expressed her feelings about things being so unfair, I was able to listen to her with warmth and compassion, and she responded so well to me. I was able to think and act more freely, as my own “stuff” was now out of the way. I love the clarity and ability to remain present that my Listening Partnerships allow me.”

There’s nothing like a Listening Partnership out there! It’s the parent support tool that helps us bring our best selves to our children and each other, day in and day out.

From the Hand in Hand Toolbox

Get our self-guided course Building a Listening Partnership and get a full introduction into how listening time works and what you can do to get the most from your partnerships. 

Read day 7 in this series Five Types of Bad Behavior and Why They Happen

Help for tantrums:

Do you know why your child tantrums? Deep-down?

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