How To Build A Better Relationship

I believe that relationships can often be a catalyst for change — I have seen it all from the best relationships in my life. But in many cases, such as the case of a parent who was not able to fully embrace their child — or parents who just needed some guidance and empathy to help deal with their young adult’s issues — can be a disaster.

In this conversation, we focus on the first lesson of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Parents” — the power of listening. In many cases, the parent is a lot more effective because they are listening. When I was a little girl and I was not a great listener, my mom had the same problems I had. But after I began to listen, and began to feel more confident as a woman, mom did too, and it turned out that mom, too, was more supportive — which was very helpful.

In this case, mom was not able to fully recognize her son — and was not able to empathize with his feelings. That’s what we’re going to talk about today: how to recognize when you are not listening, and how to then begin to understand.

Why do you not listen to your kids?

“We’re in the car and my son, who’s seven, looks at Mom and says, ‘Mom, why are we driving so fast? Why are we stopping for gas? What are we doing so fast?'” I think a lot of people can relate to this situation in their own family. I don’t hear that as much with my own children, though. In my family, I think we have always really loved listening.

When something comes up that you don’t really recognize, that can mean that your kids don’t have access to things they want — not necessarily that they are feeling out of options, but they aren’t feeling like their needs are considered.

When children are very young, their thoughts are very shallow, their thoughts are not really connected. They don’t really have a vocabulary. So this can make it very difficult, at any age, to truly understand your child’s feelings. And because young children’s feelings do not have much weight in adult relationships, it can be hard for them to connect to your thoughts and be able to empathize.

When kids grow older, they start to take a bit of a step back in their thinking. They start to have some more experiences, as they become more self aware. But it is still not the same as they were when they were younger.

“What do you mean we’re not driving fast? It’s only 10 degrees out and we’re going to make it.”

So with that in mind, here are some things to realize when you do not listen.

Why do you not listen to your kids? – It’s probably not the right situation.

“Mom, I’m not feeling very well right now. I was wondering if maybe you could get me some more milk as I’m feeling really, really sick.”

Maybe your child doesn’t feel confident enough to tell you what’s on their mind. Or your child’s feelings do not carry the same weight and authority of how you feel — as you mature in your emotional maturity. 

If your child is saying that to you as you are sitting in the car on the way to do something — do you have the confidence to talk to them and start the conversation? There is often a lot of self deprecating humor in these kinds of situations.

That is why it’s so helpful to talk with your friends, and to be able to listen to them. You can then help your child feel heard and understood.

I remember being a parent in the Midwest — my daughter would not talk to me, and my son was in kindergarten and hadn’t said a word to me in about three years. One day when I was out of town, we went to get ice cream (I was working out my son).