Being a parent is not only hard work, it requires an inhuman amount of patience. Since we can’t subscribe to a monthly shipment of patience from Amazon, we have to help ourselves. Listening partnerships are a great way to get support, work through problems and vent our emotions.
So what’s a listening partnership?
You and a friend agree to be there for the other when they need a listening ear, to do nothing else but listen with respect and warmth. No advice, no sharing similar experiences, no judgement. Just listening. The structure can be whatever makes sense for your lives and ability to get together. It might mean meeting for coffee every Thursday or Sunday morning phone calls. Whatever the structure, You will give a set amount of time to each person to talk about whatever they are struggling with/working on with their children in the moment, as well as to process and reflect on their own upbringing and childhood. It might be 5 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on what’s going on and the time available.
Why talking and not texting or writing?
Humans are social creatures. We need to talk it out to process and release it. You will release a lot of emotions when you are sharing with your partner. All feelings are welcome in these types of itneractions. Venting and expressing emotions is exactlyt he point of listening partnerships. We can even say and express the feelings we have about our children that we may not be proud of. It’s all ok.
As we listen, we trust the other person to figure it out for themselves. We do not have to offer advice, suggestions or share our struggles. We are there to support through listening. Nothing more and nothing less. Listening with warmth and respect.
I learned about listening partnerships from Hand-in-Hand Parenting. Their philosophy is grounded in the belief that children are good and want to be cooperative, helpful, and joyful members of a family. Children “misbehave” because they are dis-connected or not having a need met. Same goes for parents and caregivers. When we are feeling unsupported or out of our capacity to cope, we also act out and react to our kids. We yell, we threaten, we set arbitrary limits. Listening partnerships can help us feel better able to cope and help us process some of our own childhood stuff.