Connecting through Listening
The Stress Reducing Conversation doesn’t have to be limited to the context of marriage. The practice of active listening and empathetically connecting is incredibly valuable to our children who also need a reliable place to be seen, safe, soothed, and secure. We can build this time into our daily routines for the children living in our homes, or our visitation routines for shared parenting situations, or even weekly phone conversations with our adult children living outside of our homes. Regardless of the age of our children, it is important that they have the opportunity to share who they are, what they’re afraid of, what brings them joy, their hopes and their dreams…without being corrected or judged or silenced. John Gottman calls this connection to our inner world, our “love map.” Everyone has one, including our kids.
So how can we connect through listening if our kids only speak to us in 1-word phrases? Would you believe there’s an app for that? The Gottman Your Child’s Love Maps app includes 100 questions for the significant people in a child’s life to test their knowledge of the child’s inner world. And if we’re stumped, we can always ask our child. Most of the 100 questions cannot be answered in 1-word. How do you think you would you do? Can you name two of your child’s heroes and heroines? What about your child’s ideal vacation getaway? Can you name one thing your child would want to change about you? For this, and more apps from the Gottman Institute, check out http://www.gottman.com/iphone-apps-2/.
And if you’d like to read more about why building love maps is such an important part of being married, check this out: http://www.gottmanblog.com/new-construction/2015/3/11/build-love-maps.
As you begin to explore the inner world of the people you love the most, remember to have some fun. This isn’t about being “right” or being “wrong”. This is about getting to know each other in deeply meaningful and affirming ways.