Preparation is Required

Posted by Linda

Not that I did this kind of planning and discussing, but in retrospect I realize how important it is to establish a system for clear communication between parents before the baby is born. Parenting is a very personal issue and people often have definite opinions. In order to avoid conflict between parents during this beautiful, yet stressful time, learning how to really listen and to communicate is ever so helpful. Often, when we are listening, or act like we are listening, we really aren’t. We are thinking about what we want to say back, our mind is wandering while we are politely nodding our heads in agreement, or because of anger or some other reason, we totally block out what the other person is saying. Listening in this manner will not help you to be a happy and successful parent or have a happy and contented relationship.

Let’s take sleeping arrangements, for example. This is a decision that is best discussed before the baby is born. Remember that after the birth of the baby, both parents are very busy and exhausted and that is not necessarily the time that is conducive to having a rational and reasonable discussion. Choose the time and place where you are both relaxed and have not just finished another heated discussion. Each parent will then have the opportunity to talk while the other listens. For now, let’s focus on the listener. Since it is the speaker’s turn to have his say, the listener during this time will mostly be quiet. You will have your turn as speaker, so don’t worry. Your main job is to listen and to let the speaker know that he or she is being heard. Feeling heard by your partner gives you the feeling that you are loved. To do that, after the speaker has made one or two points at the most, the listener then summarizes what has been said. Then the listener may ask, is that what you said, followed by is there anything else that you want to add? If the speaker is satisfied that he has been heard, then he will come up with a proposed plan of action. It is not enough to talk, but in order to prevent further conflict from occurring, a workable plan must be developed.

Learning to talk and listen well is a process. I made the mistake of thinking that if I did the best that I could and learned how to speak and listen effectively, then my partner or my children would also. Nope, it takes both people being on the same page and having the willingness to want to resolve issues.

What are some of your communication struggles and successes?

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