On Listening


When I was growing up, I read a lot. Books became my touchstone for normalcy. Maybe it is because of this early saturation in literature that later in life, when looking for examples or anecdotes, I’m at a loss to find things that have happened directly to me but am able to easily come up with something from a book. At the very least, I find it easier to link my experiences to books to make them more universal. And so it is that I may have held my relationships in life to a literary expectation.

One of the most difficult relationships I’ve had in my life has been with my parents. It isn’t that I think I am a particularly difficult child, or that my parents are particularly awful people. I think that all child/parent relationships are bound to be difficult during certain transition periods in life. In fact, the past fifteen months have been some of the most difficult times I’ve had dealing with my parents, bar none.

A lot of the issues in our relationship stem from what may be my inability to communicate my expectations or desires from the relationship fully, and I think this problem plagues a lot of children, no matter their age. Sometimes, what I’m looking for is just someone to commiserate with. I want my parents to empathize with me…or at the very least to sound like they empathize with me. I want them to share their own failures, their own fears, and their own shortcomings. A lot of the time, what my parents seem to hear is “I’d really love your condescending advice that comes from a place that doesn’t seem to involve much listening and a lot of judgment”.

Then again, maybe that’s just the realities of communication. You don’t always get what you want from other people. Ultimately, my ideal parent would be modeled on Marmee, from Little Women. Marmee is supportive without being smothering, wise without being judgmental, and truly seems to listen to and respond to the very disparate needs of her four daughters. Then again, parenting doesn’t come with a manual, and parents are not omniscient, even when it comes to their own offspring. But maybe, if we all start listening to each other more, we can find a better relationship.

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Filed under My Experiences, Parenting

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