First let me say that I have always thought I was a good listener. But then I asked my kids and they said "No way Dad...you're a lousy listener!" What??? So I asked my Mom and she confirmed the fact that I am a lousy listener. Apparently I REALLY need this parenting tool.
I have two very different teenagers. My daughter likes to talk A LOT!!! My son can go all day without saying more than two words to me. (I'm not counting grunting as words) So listening to my daughter involves great focus and listening to my son involves a little bit of mind reading and interpretation.
With my daughter I have been practicing closing my laptop and giving her my full attention. I've learned a lot this week by listening to my daughter. I learned that she got a perfect score on her history test. I learned that YouTube has a lot of hilarious videos. I learned a new magic trick. I learned that she doesn't like Chick-fil-A for dinner. I learned that the kids in her school swear a lot, and she doesn't like that. I learned a joke about a foreign guy who practiced English by watching commercials.
I didn't learn quite as much from my son. But I did try and observe him a little more closely this week. You can learn a lot from teenagers by observing their body language. For example; if my son sighs, slumps his shoulders, and puts two hot dogs in the toaster oven...that means he is not pleased with our choice of dinner. If he comes into the living room and sits on the couch, that means he needs a little time with dad. If he comes home and goes downstairs without saying a word, that means it was a long day at school and he needs to unwind. And if he re-washes his hair three times, that means he needs a haircut.
I'm glad we chose this parenting tool early, because I will be working on listening the entire year. Hopefully by the end of year I will be able to ask my kids again if I am a good listener and they will be able to say YES!