You can listen to the people who tell you teens can't be trusted, or you can listen to two expert moms who don't want you to waste a single minute disliking your teenager. If the latter sounds good to you -- this is your book!
Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids
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As the CEO of Envision Possibilities and the mom of twins I was delighted to read this book now before entering the teen years. The authors have put together a masterpiece that truly teaches you as a parent not to fear the teen years. I especially enjoyed the chapter on how listening is effective, because I work with busy moms who want to take their life back I will use this as a resource for those moms who have teenagers to help them navigate the parenting waters.
Dixie Andrade - the Mom Coach
“The quality of your relationship is dependent on the quality of your listening.” Dave Ellis
I haven’t seen my teenager for days. No one is a fault, it’s just busy schedules. Tonight we have a “date” for dinner and Listening.
When a friend found out we were getting time together, he asked about our plans. I said I was going to feed her and then “listen until she was emptied out”. What does that mean?
It means I’m going to put my agenda (chores, family logistics, etc) on the back burner, ask about her life, and then hush up and listen. I will nod, make encouraging appropriate faces, say “no way!”, ask “what else?”, and not guide or lead the conversation in any particular direction. I will listen to every detail and every story about her friends, school, college choices, work, the teacher who is a “pain”, the noise her car is making, how her feet hurt after work, and anything else she wants to share. If she’s having emotions, I’ll listen. If she wants to share gossip, I’m game. If it’s hours of complaining, I get it. And if she just wants to curl up and have me rub her neck or stroke her hair, that’s perfect.
I won’t give advice, share my stories so she knows I understand, solve her problems, or ask her to consider anything about how her behavior effects me. I won’t teach, guide, or plant seeds for future germination and growth. And I won’t be patiently waiting until it’s my turn to talk.
That is “listening until the other is emptied out.” It is a gift both given and received. I give her the gift of undivided attention, curiosity, interest, and trust that she can and will solve her own problems once she has accessed her brilliance underneath all the complaints and stress. I receive the gift of her! Her feelings, fears, thoughts, rationalizations, excuses, solutions, priorities, the way her mind works, the way her heart works, and even her selfish most human characteristics. She will share herself with me intimately and openly because I have no agenda, I will not interrupt with leading questions, I will not take the conversation away with my stories or perspective, and I will stay focused on her for as long as it takes.
Granted we have years of this dynamic between us and she trusts me because of her consistent experience of my listening to her this way. But it also works when you don’t yet have this dynamic established – but only if you are genuine in your motive. Teenagers can tell if you are faking it or sincere in your desire to know them (not judge them or teach them or guide them). You might not go as deep or listen as long but you will learn about your teenager and you will share an intimate moment, or two.
Nothing in Slow Parenting is as important as Listening. Learn to listen in this way and your entire relationship with your teen will shift.
For those of you parents who have practiced this, please share in the comments about your experience. Other parents need to know this works for more than just the authors.