Food For Thought Friday: Silence is Golden

As one who talks for a living, I was overjoyed when the Human Cannonball began to talk. Finally, we could communicate verbally, my favorite thing to do.  He is a wonderful asker of difficult questions, "Mom, why are there eyelashes in this world?" or "do they have video games in heaven?" He seems to have a constant flow of thoughts exiting his brain by way of his mouth.  It has almost always delighted me (a little peace and quiet sometimes would be nice, and teaching him not to interrupt has been a major challenge).

So, it surprised me when he started going to school (preschool, Sunday School, all types of school), that when I picked him up and asked him what his favorite part of the day was, expecting to hear the flood of words fall from his constantly moving lips telling me every detail of his day, his response was a short, "I don't want to tell you."  Here, I had let my heart go walking around in the cold cruel world all alone, and he didn't want to tell me what it was like? Ouch.  Now, on the one hand, I respect the fact that his experiences when he is apart from me are his. The instinct to not share is one I can appreciate. On the other hand, I wanted to know how his day was, gosh darnit! I wasn't asking him for the frickin' secret recipe to the Colonel's fried chicken.  Seriously.

For whatever reason, he just wasn't ready to share his day.  So, I ignored my natural instinct to pepper him with questions, and told myself that when he was ready, he would tell me.  I reminded him every day that I cared by asking him the same question, "what was your favorite part of your day?" I paid attention to what he wasn't saying with his words, I asked his teachers how his day was, I looked for clues in the moment to moment.  Most of all, I kept a caring silence.  Reminding myself that when he was ready to tell me, he'd tell me.

Now it's been over a year of doing this dance, and the past week, each day when I pick him up at school and ask him, "what was your favorite part of your day?" He has answered.  First it was just one quick statement, and then I'd go back to listening between his words. Then it was a couple more things, and I'd keep listening when he was done speaking. Now, today, he could not stop telling me about his day. I sat quietly and listened TO his words this time.  It was almost magical.

As parents, it's easy to think that the sound of our voice is important. Reading aloud with our children, saying what is right or wrong, telling them the right way to handle a situation, being stern with our voice in discipline, and joyful in celebration. All of that is important, however, I think that what we say and how we say it is 20% of what's important, the other 80% that really matters is what we do with our children when we are silent. The silent moments are golden.

Do you consciously tend to the silence in your family? How do you communicate with your kids without using your words?

Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn experts. Check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge. Also, be sure to follow babycaretweets on Twitter to receive news and ideas on newborn care and thoughts about parenting!

1 comment:

  1. My girls just started preschool and it's weird no knowing what goes on all morning, because they sure as heck don't tell me. The first day of school al I gathered was that "Rachel fell down and got dirty on her tongue but Miss Jennifer cleaned it up." But I know that if I keep asking, they'll eventually tell me. I want them to share!


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