A few years ago it hit me while I was facilitating a feedback workshop for one of clients, that as parents we spend almost all of our time giving feedback to our children; don’t eat like this?, don’t yell?, I appreciate you cleaned your room?, I love it when you speak nicely? And lots of other things. But very rarely, if ever do we take the time to ask them, what do they think of us?!.
I mean how else are we going to teach them about being accepting and open to learning from experiences as well as empathy, if we never role-model it for them. What is a greater way to show them that we value their voice better than listening to them talk about us.
Well, when I returned home that day I took my daughter to a walk around the block and talked to her about feedback; I told her that I would love to hear from her what she enjoyed the most about my parenting and what she didn’t, I also asked her about what she enjoyed in our life together the most and what she didn’t. That night I did not get an answer for everything, and I believe I was overwhelming; but then the little information I got was eye opening in a beautiful way!
“Mum, I don’t like it when you promise me something and don’t do it. It hurts my feelings” – I didn’t reject her perception, though I didn’t think I did that at all, but went along with it asking for clarity; “it must be painful when I promise you something and don’t do it. Can you give me an example?”. I realized that day that when things come up and we change plans for one reason of another, I don’t explain things enough to my daughter and hence she created the perception that I don’t keep my promises. We later this week, worked out a way to explain what’s happening and a code that she says when she is really sure she understands why are we changing plans. It was an amazing experience, and since then I have been making it a point that I periodically solicit feedback from all of my children and let them know that I value this feedback and will work on it. I used a number of tools like asking them to write up what they want me to stop, start &/or continue doing as their mother(or step mother) or draw it up or tell me when something comes up – and it has been fascinating every single time.
So plan something this coming week, with your child(ren); take them for a walk in the park or have a tea party in their room or whatever works for them and ask them for feedback and share what comes up!
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Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.