In every situation, there are always two sides to every story…
Imagine going about your day when suddenly the phone rings. On the other end of the line – perhaps a concerned teacher or a camp counselor – you learn that your child is acting out. The immediate reaction is a flush of shame and embarrassment, assuming their account must be accurate.
When our children exhibit inappropriate behavior in public, our initial impulse is often to apologize on their behalf and then privately address the issue at home. But how often do we pause and ask for our child’s side of the story?
Listening to Children: An Overlooked Necessity
Anger and shame can often prevent parents from truly listening to their kids. I vividly recall a time when I was on my way to my daughter Pia’s Girl Scout camp. She had allegedly shoved another girl in a fight, leading to the camp counselor putting her in “detention” in one of the cottages.
Concerned and upset, I drove to the campground, questioning the situation. Knowing my daughter, I was skeptical. What was Pia’s unheard side of the story? How was she coping with the isolation and the perception of being the “bad one”?
As soon as I saw Pia, upset and sitting alone, I knew my gut feeling had been accurate. Asking her about the incident, she tearfully revealed, “I just want to go, I just want to go!” Despite her desire to leave, I was determined not to let her leave with a tarnished reputation without her side being understood.
Pia explained, “Mom, she was bullying me and calling me names in front of all the other girls. I was so embarrassed and humiliated, and I asked her over and over again to stop calling me names. But she wouldn’t stop bullying me!”
Understanding her perspective, I facilitated a reconciliation between the two girls, and Pia didn’t need to be in detention. The experience taught me a crucial life lesson: there are always two sides to every story.
The Importance of Listening to Your Child
Had I approached the situation with anger and humiliation, Pia would have felt attacked and misunderstood. It emphasized the importance of listening to our children, even when their actions seem inexcusable. Not every misstep is a misunderstanding, but there’s often an unmet need driving their behavior.
As parents, it’s our duty to set aside our own feelings of shame and always listen to our children. By doing so, we can not only resolve immediate issues but also foster trust and open communication for the future.
So, the next time you find yourself at the crossroads of parenting challenges, remember the simple yet profound truth: there are always two sides to every story. In embracing this wisdom, we not only nurture a deeper connection with our children but also empower them to navigate the complexities of life with resilience and grace.
Love and Blessings,
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.