If you have ever worked with me personally, or seen any of my webinars, it’s likely that I will have gone on and on about Listening Partnerships.
Well, I’m going to go on about them again!
Because they have not only changed my parenting, they have changed my life!
If you have ever tried listening to your children, (with patience) attempted setting limits with warmth, devoted your time and attention through a special time engaging in an activity you find tedious, or play-listened through some tricky behaviour, you will know that it parenting this way can be extremely difficult to do well.
getting listening for yourself
For me, Listening Partnerships are key to being able to successfully and effectively “listen” to my children with warmth and connection, and help them heal in the way I know they need to.
I’d like to share just one small story about what Listening Partnerships did for me.
My children have always been early risers, as have I, but even I found 5am too early to wake every day. Without fail.
I had tried all the usual tricks; bringing them in bed with us (hoping they would drop off again); buying a Gro-clock (and reading them the story book that comes with it, multiple times); reasoning with them that, if they didn’t get enough sleep, they would be tired; insisting firmly that they stay in bed (and go back to sleep); begging; shouting; crying with frustration.
I did the lot. None of it made any difference.
The problem wasn’t so much the early start, my children would go to bed early, so they were probably getting enough sleep. It wasn’t really the fact that they disturbed me and their dad at a time I just couldn’t get on board with.
the real problem was my rage
It flooded me when I was woken, I would look at the clock and see that it was pre 6am and BOOM!
I would storm to their room and be unable to be the calm, kind, parent that I really wanted to be.
Listening Time was the Key
This was one of the first things I worked on in Listening Time. I was encouraged to delve into the feelings around bring woken.
Wow! so much came up.
I was so desperately and fundamentally exhausted by the time I found Hand in Hand and the tools. I was despairing that my children would never sleep the “correct” amount of 12 hours a night, and I was dripping with the shame of not “getting it right”.
I was hyper aware of others being woken by my children; my husband, who did more paid work than me; our neighbours, who didn’t have children; any guests – what would they think of me; even the other sibling, THEY would be over tired too!
I wasn’t always worried about MY sleep, although some days I just wasn’t sure HOW I was going to get through the day.
Through Listening Time I realised my true level of stress around always NEEDING to being considerate of others, of putting others’ needs above my own.
our own childhood experiences
I also remembered an occasion when I had stayed overnight with a friend, and I accidentally woken her when I was trying to read the clock. I was hoping it was miraculously 7.30am, when in fact it was closer to 5.30am. Her mum was furious, lecturing and berated me, asking “why did you wake her?” again and again. “I didn’t mean to” didn’t seem to cut it.
In my listening time I got to cry about the unfairness of my friend’s mum. I laughed at the absurdity of trying to convince children, who are obviously wide awake, to fall back to sleep. I used the safety of the listening space to apologise to my children for the times I had raged and shouted at them. I was able to stand up for myself as a child, and I was allowed to dwell on the fact that there wasn’t anything wrong with me being an early riser as a child, and there wasn’t anything wrong with my children either.
Change didn’t happen overnight, but as the tension was released I just began to feel differently when I was woken, I was able to respond with creativity, warm, patience and understanding.
Finally, one day it occurred to me to ask my husband whether the children were in fact loud and disturbing when they woke in the morning. He said “Honestly? no, not really” I realised that I am a very light sleeper at that time in the morning, and I started using ear plugs. Hey Presto! The problem was solved.
the power of Listening Partnerships
There’s no way that just wearing ear plugs could have solved my issues with early rising children. Listening Time had loosened the tension and emotions around the situation and allowed me to think clearly and figure out what I could do about the situation.
I’m so grateful for the power of Listening Partnerships.
Listening Partnerships Class Available
Whilst Listening Partnerships are simple to outline (2 parents divide the time available and take it in turns to share and listen to each other confidentially – without advice, interrupting, or judgement); the real healing comes from delving into the nuances of how to use the tool.
If you would like to learn more about how Listening Partnerships can help shift tensions for you, so you can parent without the anxiety, anger, despair, frustration, fear, or exhaustion that often accompanies parenting, and clouds our thinking, I’d love you to join my Listening Partnership Class.
The next Listening Partnerships Class starts at the end of October.
My next Starter Classes, which introduce all the Hand in Hand Tools, are on Wednesday lunchtimes and Thursday evenings (UK time) starting mid-September.