World Voice: Listening With a Willingness to be Changed

World Voice: Listening With a Willingness to be Changed

us-election-signThe election of the next President of the United States is drawing near with just two weeks to go. Many Americans (and I suspect many non-Americans as well) have been counting down the days to the end of what has been a brutal campaign. Like many parents I’ve struggled with just how, exactly, to talk to my kids about this election.

Earlier this year, I started to see articles popping up about how to talk to children about Donald Trump, specifically. But I wonder, too, about how to talk to children about the extraordinary thing they are witnessing in this election cycle: the breakdown of mutual agreements – spoken and unspoken – about how political discourse happens in an open and free democracy with peaceful transitions of power.

To be sure, American politics have always been contentious. Heated debates and party divisions are not new. What feels new to me, though, is the unwillingness on all sides to truly listen with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.

It is this type of listening that I try to model and teach my children. It is this type of listening that helps me to experience being seen and understood. And I think it is this type of listening that can and will ultimately create healing if we are willing to step into it.

Listening is one of my greatest challenges as a parent. In the hustle of day-to-day life – school, work, meals, nap, laundry, dishes – I can sometimes become so focused on what needs to happen (according to me) that I don’t always stop and listen with a willingness to be changed when my kids try to express something to me. I might stop and look at them and pay attention as they speak. I may even silently congratulate myself for being so patient.

But if I’m just trying to make them feel heard rather than actually listening and taking in what they are saying, willing to adjust course based on what they express, am I really modeling how I hope they will show up in the world?

As adults, whether we mean to or not, we are constantly setting an example for the children of the world. They see and pay attention and learn from us, for better or for worse. It is for this reason that conversations about Donald Trump are essential. And it is also for this reason that I think we would all do well to consider whether we are confusing polite waiting for true listening. Are we sitting quietly while our fellow citizens express their frustrations and fears, congratulating ourselves on being so cool-headed, while we simply wait for them to finish so we can respond with whatever preloaded retort applies? Or are we truly listening with a willingness to be changed, to consider the other side, and to wonder, together, how we can address and ensure our common well-being?

How open are you to changing your position after listening to someone’s point of view? Has this ever happened to you?

This is an original post to World Moms Network by Ms. V of South Korea. Photo credit: Jay Phagan. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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USA: My Favorite Relationship Dos and Don’ts

USA: My Favorite Relationship Dos and Don’ts

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I love post-prompts like this one, as they make me think about my everyday actions, especially the ones that come out of habits I created overtime, and no longer think about.  Let’s get right to it and I’ll say that even though some of my dos and don’ts apply to varying types of relationships, I am focusing on romantic relationships like the one I have the pleasure of having with the man who is my husband. These are only a few of my favorites: (more…)

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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NEW ZEALAND: Silver Linings

NEW ZEALAND: Silver Linings

KarynAlmost three years ago, we had the option of buying a big house in town or an apartment sized house on a small block of land. With three boys who had outgrown the space we had in town, we moved to the countryside. It’s been a great move and I feel very at home here. There is space for energy to be burned and huts to be built. There is mud. A lot of mud. There are fruit trees and a small forest. No, there isn’t enough room inside, especially when it’s midwinter and there are more than our family in the house. (Groups of 12 yo boys take up a lot of space!) I have culled and culled and culled and we still have too much stuff for the cupboards. But all in all, I’m pleased I’m here.

Before the move, one of the things I was dreading was the extra driving I was going to have to do. My boys go to school in a small city 25 minutes from home and I work in the twin small city, 25 minutes drive in the opposite direction.. The boys have friends spread out all around the area, it’s not unusual for me to drive 700km (about 430 miles) in a week and that can equate to a couple of hours each day.

While I don’t mind the actual driving, anticipating what wasn’t going to get done during that time bothered me. And it’s proven to be a justified expectation. There are weeks when the basics are all that get completed. I relish my days when I don’t have to go anywhere and at least some holiday time at home is essential for my mental health. But there has been a major up side to all that time in the car: Time with the boys, either in groups or individually, and time alone.

I get to have one on one time with each of the three boys most weeks; I get to listen to them and their friends yakking about what’s important to them (if you don‘t say anything, you learn all sorts of things); I get to talk to them about life and they get to tell me about life. We laugh, we rant, we sing, we are silly together, we plan what needs to be done when we arrive home. Sometimes we listen to talking books and at other, rare times, there is companionable silence.

I also really value the time I get in the car alone, with my thoughts or listening to cds. I have mentally worked through discussions, organised my day and contemplated the scenery. I have tuned out, sometimes, to the point where the car seems to drive itself.

And, from time with the boys to time by myself, I can see that it’s all been valuable. The silver lining(s), as they say.

Have you ever dreaded something and then discovered that there was magic in the reality of living that experience? How much time do you spend travelling each week?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our writer and mother of three boys in New Zealand, Karyn Van Der Zwet.

Photo credit to the author.

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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Friday Question: What are the top 3 qualities you want to instill in your children?

This week’s Friday Question comes from World Moms Blog writer DC Blog Mama.  She asked our writers,

“In 15 words or less, what are the top 3 qualities you want to try to instill in your children?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Kirsten Jessiman of Ontario, Canada writes:         

“1. How to listen.

2. How to be compassionate.

3. How to share.” (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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