What Can We Learn from Listening to our Youth? Listen,Lead and Follow as a Parent
I was sitting with my son in November in Sevilla during my visit, and the sun came out to play. With light and shadow a perfect geometric giant eye was cast on the wall from the the lamp shade. Momentary shapes causing us to smile and play with it. Listen to the moment, move with the shift, don't overthink it, keep yourself light, breathe, accept, interact, appreciate, support the moment, make something of it, contribute, take action, enjoy it, recognize it, don't over do it, don't miss it, acknowledge it, love it. Yeah. Awareness in a breath. Take another breath. Exhale. Listen, Watch. Give attention. Let it go. With being a parent comes so many responsibilities that it could be possible to place ourselves constantly in a leading role. It is a great discovery even in the small moments when I can catch myself and allow myself to also listen and be led. What does that mean for me? Alot of skills that perhaps are used in other situations and also necessary in these. Learning to always trust my intuition. Not to force having to draw the answer or explanation. Listening and understanding when to give space and when in the relationship with your child, to lean in. How does listening help me lead and also follow and learn? Especially with a teenager, its a world of constant and instant physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. Sometimes I think is he really listening to me? Did any of what we've been talking about actually stick with him? I'm exhausted how long are we holding out in this area and when can we communicate this better and move through something and forward?
But then there is that moment, when I really am not looking or listening for it. When its an awfully long day of work and i'm driving home in the dreary weather and I've got to cut through traffic for a while. I call my son because on his time zone where he's studying and training its already evening and almost time to sleep. And there is a moment where he begins to talk to me and ask me questions and I realize wow, there we are, and he has been taking notes and listening and comprehending and listening with his body and mind and spirit , where he understood by example how we are moving through life and he is right there not missing a beat. All this pull of being a teenager and finding his own identity and then suddenly there we are and I realize, oh wow, we have been talking and listening to each other. We are made from the same tree and he's modelling and I suppose I'm modelling him too, and we are moving through life with similar outlooks, similar questions, similar likes and dislikes. It really surprised me. What can we learn from this? Listening is still having the responsibility as a parent to lead but also knowing how to admit mistakes, how to trust your child, how to let them choose and lead with support, how to start over again when difficult moments happen. How to lighten up and not take everything so seriously. How to enjoy the present and the moments without the weight of the past or the future always levelling in. I'm not the parent who is always in conversation with my son. We spend a lot of times doing things and just being and we're quiet. But we enjoy more things in common than I might think.
An amazing revelation was that my son and I have gone through things together at different times. I taught in a Dewey system college, he studied in a Dewey system school, which is known to build on a " continuous reconstruction of experiences ", classroom democracy and imagination as a central importance for "learning forward." I brought him to travel 7 continents in his childhood for music, family and research, and he sought to travel. During his first years as a toddler when asked to draw a picture of the world he drew the Philippines at the center of the map. He still loves to play piano and drums, a lot. He just needs the space and time to do so. I realize to keep supporting him and to keep encouraging him, listening to his needs and letting him lead on learning, helps support him in his passions in life, and not as a pressure.
When I'm struggling and I'm not trying to place that to my son, or weigh him down, he can intuit and articulate it so well. I think , how did you get that?
They are listening even when we are not speaking directly to them. They are listening through the embodiment of our actions. They are listening to every beat and leading when we need to be led. The assumption for us can be that kids can be so smart and what the need is for us to nurture their potential. Investing all in as a mother and parent, and listening with love and trust, I am reminded how my child and others have the ability to support and lead us not just for tomorrow, but in the moment now. - Susie Ibarra