I’m reading this book titled Wonderful Ways to Love a Child, by Judy Ford. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read it, but I find myself skipping around through the pages reading and then re-reading it over again, and am moved by every section I read. Ford offers advice and examples, which is very helpful. It is a book essentially about parenting, however, I feel as though I can apply it to other relationships in my life (like with my husband).
In the book, there is a part called Listening from the Heart and I found it so fitting in relation to our little exercise last meeting, when we spent some time focusing on listening and not interrupting the other mom for two minutes, but also being able to speak free and clear without any interruptions ourselves. I found out two minutes really is a long time. I also found the experience eye opening. Not only for what I found out about myself, but also that someone else had their own story to tell.
In Wonderful Ways to Love a Child it says, “Listening from the heart means not jumping in with your point of view, but rather hearing what life is like from your child’s perspective.” I found this to be true when sharing at MOPS. I found when listening just to two different people I had the same perspective and life experience as one and different from another, but I would have never even learned about these women without genuinely listening that night.
As I tried to write this article about listening, I found it a struggle. I prayed for God’s help. He led me on a journey through this book and I learned so much about myself. Mostly about listening. I found myself guilty of interrupting and even sometimes finishing other people’s sentences, thinking I knew what they were going to say. I found out I was hearing but not really listening all the time.
In reading, God led me to two other sections in the book titled Really Love Yourself and Allow Them to LoveThemselves. It says in the book, “when you accept who you are, you will not be afraid to grow, to learn, to change.” I realized that God needed me to see that my listening skills, or lack there of, was something that I needed to change. However I needed to love myself enough to see those imperfections, and allow myself to be open to change.
What better way to show someone you love them than to listen and find out about them and their point of view, what their story is. I think God is trying to show me that by listening, I am allowing myself to love someone else and show them love, by knowing that their story is important enough to be listened to. I am a work in progress and I pray that God continues to open my heart up to change if need be.
The section Listening from the Heart helped to show me the importance of listening, but loving myself is where the change begins. Here is an excerpt from Wonderful Ways to Love a Child (And if you get a chance you should check out the book):
“Listen From Your Heart
Listening from your heart is completely different from listening with your ears. Few people know how to do this, and very few parents listen to their children this way. Listening from the heart means being genuinely interested, open, and caring. It means being eager to hear, to learn, to be astonished-without the need to argue, interrupt the flow, or give advice (the really hard part!) Listening from the heart means not jumping in with your point of view, but rather hearing what life is like from your child’s perspective. It is listening with a sense of wonder. When you listen from your heart, your child feels safe to tell all, for a child who is with a receptive adult opens up and shares freely.
When Jake was caught cutting high school, he was upset and called his dad, John, insisting he pick him up right away. While driving to the school John reminded himself not to jump to conclusions but to allow Jake to do the talking. Jake told his dad that he didn’t want to return to school that day, that he needed time to think. So instead of scolding, lecturing, or dispensing advice, John took his son for a walk and continued listening. Jake talked about everything from soccer to grades to money. The more John listened, the more Jake shared. He talked about his girlfriend, sex, and his future. Because of John’s heartfelt listening, what might have been a confrontation softened into an intimate father-son conversation, ending with Jake listening to his father’s point of view.
A child who is upset needs sensitive listening where few words are exchanged. Remember that old saying “Oh” or “Hmmm” is sometimes enough; the fewer words from you, the better. Don’t try to coax for more information than your child wants to give. Crystal cried and gasped for air while she told her mom how Lissy wouldn’t share the dolls. Fortunately, Mom avoided the tendency to fix the problem. She listened, nodded in understanding, and, as often happens, within an hour or so Crystal was playing with Lissy again.
A child who is crying does not want to be asked questions or be given advice. In fact, he wants you to understand without having to explain. When your child has finished crying or is no longer upset, you might ask a simple question, such as, “Something happened?” or “Bad day?” Too many questions and your child feels defensive. Some children will share more; others will want to keep it to themselves, and you need to learn to respect their way.
Listening from your heart will heighten the sense of closeness with your child, and many times you’ll discover that your gentle, quiet listening is all that’s needed for your child to find his own solution.”
Dear God I thank you for the journey you are sending me on of love and self-discovery. I also pray that you are with other moms who choose to take that journey and may not know you. Please help me learn to listen and not just hear what you, my family and friends have to say, and help me to understand the importance of another’s point of view. Also, please help me to love myself everyday even with my imperfections. In Jesus’ name, Amen.