Children who are becoming adults undergo amazing changes in every part of their being. Some of those changes are easily seen and understood (like the need for new pants because the old ones are too short).
But, some changes are not easily detected because they are invisible (like what and how children think as they mature). These internal changes provide the focus for this segment.
The internal life of children going through puberty is complicated. They think differently than they used to. Their likes and dislikes vary. How they respond (or don’t respond) changes. It’s almost as if they flip flop between the child they once were and the adult they are becoming. This constant flux often results in the children asking themselves, “Am I still loved in the midst of all this craziness?”
Up until puberty, most children have a hard time hiding how they feel. When they are angry or sad or hurt their outside actions match what is happening inside. However, this sync between one’s actions and one’s feelings quickly disappears with puberty. The child becomes introspective, frequently spending lots of time in their inner world.
behavior means that the child just wants to be left
alone. This is not true.
During puberty, children begin to discover a new perspective on life. They are entering a time of self-discovery where they are trying to figure out who they really are and what they are meant to do. As they spend more time in thought, they have a growing desire to bounce their ideas off someone who will really listen to what they have to say. In reality, they want to connect with their family more now than ever.
And, this is where listening comes in. Listening is the means by which parents enter the invisible world of their child. When parents listen to their son or daughter, they begin to grasp what is happening inside the youth. Children in the throes of puberty long to share their personal thoughts and have someone say, “I still love you and care about who you are and what you are saying.” Listening validates the worth and importance of the child as the transition to adulthood occurs.
The teachings of the Catholic Church remind us that every person has value and should be treated with the utmost respect, care and dignity. This is the reason why parents need to learn how to listen. When parents take the time to ask questions, read the body language and focus on the personal story without interruptions they honor the child and forge a connection that bonds them together. The union that flourishes from listening allows parents to continually guide the youth towards what is best in this world.
The act of listening creates an atmosphere of true conversation. True conversation means communicating relationship rather than just information. It includes connecting verbally and non-verbally with your entire being and creating an exchange where everything is shared and received. True conversations craft a balance between the individuals so that no one person dominates the exchange.
Children who are becoming adults need to be heard. They are filled with questions and ideas that need to be expressed. Caring parents recognize their obligation to probe into the invisible reality of their child’s world by listening. Let’s look at concrete ways to develop active listening that will strengthen the bond between parents and children.
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