When I was working outside of the home, I had the opportunity to manage and coach others, as well as to be managed and coached myself. Hiring and annual reviews were great coaching situations – structured full of paperwork, employee/employer communications outlined by checklists that assisted in guiding the conversation and our follow-up.
Parenting is a lot like being a manager at times. We’re trying to help each other for the betterment of the family, giving each other feedback along the way.
Listening is a part of coaching and a huge part of parenting. Sometimes, we forget to listen as parents because we feel that we are ‘right’ or, in the heat of the moment, don’t want to hear the other side of it. The fact is, that there may very well be another side of a story and no matter what, we should listen to our children. They want to be heard and give their feedback.
My parents were great listeners. They didn’t dictate to me what I needed to do or be to be successful. They didn’t tell me if I was right or wrong in certain decisions (although, sometimes how I wish they would have said ‘I told you so!’). But they did listen. When I had questions, or when I hesitated, they would help guide me but would never direct me to an answer they thought was ‘right’. They were great parenting coaches, and it was in part because of this that I was able to become a very independent and confident woman.
This is how I hope to coach my children; to parent my children. I hope to be a guide, a mentor and a good listener. Because frankly, I don’t have all the answers (does it break a parenting rule to admit this?) and someday they will learn this first hand. So while it’s my role right now to help them learn right from wrong when they are so little, I still need to be a good listener. To help them work through their emotions or how to better communicate; to answer their questions and help build their confidence. I want this foundation to be laid now, early on, so that when they need a coach in the future it’s me or their father they come to.
Listening is no easy skill. It takes a lot of restraint for us to do it sometimes. But the more we listen, the more we will learn and understand. It’s important for our children that we do so.