I work with so many parents helping them to let go of the way they were parented and I have been noticing a common theme happening time and time again. You know how ‘they’ say that once you notice something, you start to notice it everywhere?
Well, this is how I’m beginning to feel about this common theme.
So, what’s the theme?
In a word (or maybe a few): the lack of empathy.
We haven’t truly received the empathy that we really needed in childhood (and even today) and we are still carrying this really huge need to just be heard….just to be listened to….without judgment.
And I don’t mean ‘listened to’ for a moment. I mean ‘listened to’ for a good long while, until our feeling (s) are fully unpacked and allowed to have a voice.
Sometimes, this means that there are feelings underneath feelings and all of these feelings just need a place to be ‘aired out’ and expressed in a neutral, non-judgmental space.
This can be quite scary for the listener because we, as a culture, are not always used to just hearing another person’s feelings out, without trying to fix them or make them ‘feel better’ or judge them.
Empathy, when fully offered with a loving heart, is one of the greatest gifts on the planet.
The gift of being heard. And believe it or not, it’s not a very easy gift to give or receive.
For many of us as parents, we tend to get louder when our children are not doing what we’d like them to do. It’s as if you just raised your voice , then you will be heard.
I believe that we are trying to compensate for a feeling that’s arising out of the deep need to just be heard.
And empathy is quite the opposite.
The voice of empathy is often quiet. It’s the voice of listening. Of offering space to just be. It’s the voice that hardly whispers and just listens without judgment, without trying to fix something, without offering advice, and without trying to be heard.
Empathy begins when you listen.
Your child has an immense need to be heard. How do I know this?
Because I work with tons of children who are now grown (you as parents) and the one thing that has profoundly affected every parent’s life is the feeling that he/she was not fully heard as a child.
It kinda makes you wonder.
With all of us running around as parents with this deep need that wasn’t fulfilled during childhood, how do you think we’re going to react when our child really needs to just be heard?
The answer: Many different ways.
Subconsciously, you may get very triggered by your child’s crying or endless demands because you are being reminded on a very deep level that your own need to be heard was never met.
Or maybe your parent or caregiver tried to meet your own need to be heard and missed the mark.
Giving and receiving empathy is an art. We are all painting a very beautiful, very timeless canvas any time we fully allow another person (your child) to just be.
Without judgment. Without trying to change anything about that moment.
The magic of the moment unfolds as your child (or anyone else who receives empathy) feels accepted.
Fully accepted for everything that he/she is and everything he/she is not in that moment.
The overarching belief that ‘all is ok’ seeps into the fabric of your conversation without you needing to say a word.
Just by creating the space for another to be heard, fully heard…..for another to cry, to rage, to be angry or frustrated or express one of the myriad of emotions we all feel in a day….you are rewriting the history of that person’s life.
You are giving him/her another chance.
Maybe it’s time to just get very quiet.
Maybe it’s time to let go of the way you were parented and welcome acceptance.
Maybe it’s time to simply be in this moment with your child no matter what emotion is present.
And just listen.
Your child is trying to tell you something.