Why should we listen to our parents

No more rigid roles - listen!

Many parents turn to acting for their children because they are afraid of losing leadership. In doing so, they would Empathy and a real dialogue also help set limits.

Text: Jesper Juul
Petra Dufkova / The Illustrators

What is the difference between «playing a role» and «being present for your child»? I would best give an example: An eight-year-old child comes home from school and you notice that something is wrong and ask: "What is the matter?" - "Nothing!" - «But you don't look happy! Did something happen?" - «No, it is not important!» - «Please tell me. I see that something is wrong! " - «Well, my teacher was so unfair today. Someone did this and that and he punished me for it. "

Even if parents were present up to that point, that's when most of them stop listening. You start acting and jump into the role of parents: "Well, then you must have done something too!" So why should this child trust you again if you can't? listen with empathy until the end can? Nobody asks you to take sides, but you have to be there for the child first - you have to listen to the full story. And it doesn't matter what the objective facts were that led to this conflict: the essential thing is that the child is very unhappy.

Why do we hide behind the role self?

Most parents cut off the dialogue before it has even really started because they are no longer present, but have activated their role-selves. You are afraid of losing the lead. When we are personal, we are extremely vulnerable. So we prefer to protect ourselves in good time, only at the expense of others - in this case: the child. We'd rather hurt the child: It is guilty, it certainly did something! And we hide behind our role, the supposed leadership, but demand that it continue to tell the truth - this is an unfair game.

What parents express with their attitude is that it is much more important to them to prove what kind of “good parents” they arethan to get in touch with your child. You are absorbed in yourself and not really attuned to reference and dialogue.

Women in particular need to know how painful it is to open up and not be heard.

It is exhausting to think about how best to play the role of mother. What amazes me is that women in particular play this game, because they should know how painful it is when you open up and the other is not listening to you, because he is already at it, Finding solutions to your problem - that's exactly what men do all the time.

Women don't tell their problem because they need a big brother or father to tell them where to go. You will usually find the solution yourself. Just don't understand that a good part of the solution is talking about it. So the women hope, when they tell their husband, their parents or their friends, and tell them what is tormenting them at the moment, that they will then find a way out for themselves. That's what most women do!

Men trapped in inner dialogue

Many men, on the other hand, do exactly the opposite: They just think - and then usually come up with a stupid suggestion, because they only rely on their inner dialogue - which is unfortunately not very enriching. They'd rather go around in circles than learn something from their wives.

For example: when my father died I didn't want anyone around me, but of course that wasn't possible. All relatives and friends came. And it was very helpful to my mother because by telling the same story to every newcomer, she was actually beginning to realize that her husband was dead. If she had been alone, the grief would have been much more difficult, and she might not have gotten over it so easily. In this respectt women have more wisdom - and yet they are just as unwise as men. When it comes to their children, they are unable to listen either.

A dialogue helps parents to set boundaries

After all, when I point out to women what they stage each time with their child, then they immediately know what I mean. You have the practice - you have felt what your child feels often enough. This makes it easier for them to change in relation to their child. It is difficult for most men; It would be so helpful if they could say: "Listen, I love you, I would like to talk to you, but I don't know how ... Teach me!" Instead they say: "There is nothing to be said about it!" And because they are used to being lonely, they even fail to see conflict in their marriage.

Dialogue can also be used to set limits. Case in point: a family with two children, a girl and a boy. The father wants you to be home by 9 p.m. But you come at 11 p.m. The father: "What was the matter? What did you think when you saw what time it is? What was so important that you forgot the time? " After knowing all this, he says: "Now I know that you didn't want to fool me, but I want you to be home at 9 p.m. from now on, no matter what is more important to you!" This father listened to the children and did their experiences are taken seriously so that the children will not find it difficult to accept his ruleeven if they will hum a bit. Ultimately, they say: Okay!

Children cannot be reached without personal dialogue.

But when you say as a father: “We have made a rule. And a rule is a rule. You have to obey them! », Then you speak impersonally and refer to something external. The children will also say "Okay!" say, but they will think to themselves: «The devil take you! If it's in this family just rules then I'll do what I want! " And then they make up immune to you, they look over youas if you no longer exist: you can no longer reach her. They are also no longer vulnerable: you can criticize and punish them as much as you want, they don't care. - On the other hand, with a personal dialogue in which you say: «I want», you can reach children, yes, you can even set limits - and they will accept them.

This text comes from the book «We are here for you. 10 tips for authentic parents »by Jesper Juul. Published in 2005 by Kreuz Verlag. The book is out of print.

Jesper Juul (1948 - 2019)

Take your child seriously - treat them with respect. Children don't need boundaries - they need relationships. Parents don't have to be consistent - they have to be credible.

The Danish family therapist Jesper Juul has shaped people like no other in the past decades with his upbringing and relationship principles.

The founder of familylab, an advisory network for families, and author of over 40 books (“Your competent child”, “From parenting to relationship”) died on July 25 at the age of 71 after a long illness in Odder, Denmark. He was married twice and has a son from his first marriage and two grandchildren.

Jesper Juul's columns are created in collaboration with familylab.ch

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