"Prayer begins by listening, God speaks in the silence of your hearts and we speak from the fullness of our hearts. I listen, God speaks. I speak, God listens. This listening, speaking is prayer."
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta
I don't usually post religious content but I'm a huge fan of Mother Teresa and today is a holy day called Ash Wednesday (for us Catholics). While I was reading this quote to kick off our long journey of repentance, I realized that this was a great message for those of us who practice attachment parenting. I'm going to rephrase this quote to show you what I mean:
"Attachment parenting begins by listening, my children speak in the silence of their hearts and we speak from the fullness of our hearts. I listen, my child speaks. I speak, my children listen. This listening, speaking is attachment parenting."
Too often, I don't listen to what my children are saying (especially in their nonverbal communication). When this occurs, at least one of us ends up frustrated. This is particularly challenging when our child is an infant or toddler and cannot tell us what they need or want with their words. This is the time period, however, when it is even more important to listen to them!
Why don't I always listen? For various reasons I suppose (desire for control, pride, being distracted, being tired, being disengaged). When I do listen, life flows much better. Here's a great personal example. We have the hardest time with transitions, especially going from our home to the car. I just want to get in the car and go, but it can be a looooong process to move at my 4 and 2 y.o.'s pace. If I rush this, then at least one of them are upset and I'm certainly frustrated. By listening to Tyler (2 y.o.), I have learned that he doesn't like to leave when he is in the middle of something he was interested in at the moment (well, who doesn't?!). I've learned that if I allow him to bring some of what he is playing with into the car with him, he will most likely allow me to pick him up to bring him to the car.
With my 4 y.o., she needs plenty of notice ahead of time. She likes to pack a "purse" of things to have "just in case" and enjoys picking out shoes, accessories, coats, etc. Like I said, I need to give her plenty of time. :) I have learned that they both like to buckle the top buckle by themselves, except when Rita Clare (4 y.o.) wants me to "take care of her". So, I've then learned to ask her ahead of time, if she wants to do it herself or for me to do it. When I slow down, understand the process, and respect their needs, we are at peace. Now I just have to work on incorporating this AND getting to places on time (my lenten promise)!
Engaging. Paying attention. Understanding.
If you subscribe to the attachment parenting philosophy, then these are the key concepts. Heck, these should be key concepts for life, don't you think? It's not always easy but it is certainly rewarding.
What has your child been telling you recently? Have you been listening?
Jen Starks, Owner firstname.lastname@example.org 574.275.1235