We never know where conversations with our children will take us! And what we will learn!
My eleven-year-old daughter saw something curious out the window while I was driving, and wanted to know what it was. I invite you into our little adventure!
She typed out part of our conversation for you:
“Mom, there’s a taco on the end of that bike that’s being pulled by a cow!” I exclaimed.
“What?” said Mom.
“Yeah, there’s a cow pulling a taco on the end of that bike!” I re-stated.
“You mean a taco was sitting on a bike?” asked Mom.
“No not a real taco, a fake one and a cow was with it. It was like one of those bike things that you pull,” I said.
“Like a decoration?” asked Mom.
“No, like a bicycle carriage thing.”
“You mean it’s like a bike pulling a child’s carrier with decorations on it?”
“Yes, but a fake cow is attached to the bike pulling the taco.”
“So, a bicycle is pulling a fake cow pulling a fake big taco.”
“No, not quite.”
“Huh, that is so weird. I’ll have to see that when we drive by again.”
As you can guess, I was completely mytified as to what my daughter was talking about!
This conversation was a poignant reminder to me to listen! In this case, it was obvious to me that I didn’t know what she was telling me about.
Often in life, we’re much more familiar with what the other person is talking about.
At least, we think we are.
But I haven’t lived the same life as you.
I haven’t had the same experiences. Even if we share a similar experience, we go through it in different way.
I don’t know what you are feeling.
Or what it means to you.
I don’t know what you need, and what you might know and have already.
That’s the beauty of listening! With this practice we offer humble hearts to be with another person.
With the simple skill of asking questions, or simply restating a piece of what the other person said, we invite them to share. And to be listened to as we open our heart and create safe space for them to be heard.
And this is huge, because…
Being understood feels like being loved!
A couple hours after the conversation my daughter shared with you, we drove back home. I pulled into the parking lot of the school, and here is what we saw:
What do you think it is? I’m guessing it was a float for some kind of parade!
When I saw it, everything my daughter said made sense. And, I could see how my initial guesses and assumptions were incredibly wrong. It was definitely not a child’s bike trailer!
I’m reminded to listen with an open heart and gentle curiosity.
Let’s pay attention to the people around us today and notice the people God puts in our paths.
Will you try this? In response to what someone says, ask a simple question that shows interest and invites them to continue talking. Or, restate a piece of what they said, and listen to how they add on to that prompt.
Kathryn Featherstone is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a board-certified Christian Life Coach, who helps people live and love well out of their strengths and their relationship with Christ. She’d like to encourage you in your journey! Write her a note or see her Coaching page.