DISCLAIMER: I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on about 26 years of mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to about 18. While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I also received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. My personal development and growth from the 7th – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males and men.
I’ve recently imposed a philosophy of listening first. I have two eyes, two ears and one mouth…Shut UP. This is self imposed of course. Well… that philosophy goes along with my next tip, be quick to listen and understand what your child has to say.
This is where I provide a really good example for listening but, to tell you the truth, I don’t have one. Shoot, I’m not good at it…getting better but I’m not there yet. As I said before, I don’t have any children so that’s my excuse.
Let me present another side of communication. The scenario is… adults are talking about adult subjects, family, sex, money, etc. A child in the next room is listening…being nosey. He can hear the conversation, but that doesn’t mean he’s invited to the conversation. He responds to someone in the conversation between adults and they quickly realize he’s been listening, to which they respond, “Hey…keep your ears out of this conversation, ain’t nobody talking to you.”
Now…that was me in my teenage years. Every time my mom would talk about juicy family stuff, I was right there.
My challenge to you is the opposite of that scenario…LISTEN to your son or daughter tell you something.
I’m talking about when you are alone talking to your son, listen really LISTEN to what he’s saying. Allow him to develop his own voice and opinion, then work backwards to try to coach his thoughts…understand his process of deductive reasoning before he speaks. Work with him to understand the timing of his statements…but again, listen to him first.
If you’re upset about something, use YOUR words and talk to your son. Try not to react, talk….don’t yell…just tell him why it’s wrong or right.
Let him speak up and for himself even knowing the outcome may not be something you want to hear. What’s more important is that he trusts you enough to tell you.
I’m publishing this around the same time a family is mourning the death of their 19 or 20 year old son. His relationship had ended and he choose to commit suicide. I don’t know if listening or not listening was a contributor…I can’t even begin to understand it. I just wish I can help this family at this time, I probably can’t. My hope is that maybe listening will help someone else not lose a child…maybe.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama