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Susan Smalley, Ph.D. Headshot

On Listening

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A friend emailed me about a blog on mothers and said she thought the
point about deep listening to our children was the key. I realized
that this is what makes grandparents so great. Generally we might
'think' we know that listening is the key to being a good parent, but
rarely in our hectic 30s and 40s are we very capable of practicing
it. We are in the building mode of life, a time of life full of
explaining our thoughts and selves to others as we define to the
external world who we are. Then we hit our 50s and we being to look
within again. We begin to discover that we are not what we build,
what we 'do', that defines who we are. We discover that it is how we
interact with others, with ourselves, with work mates, with family,
with members of our community, that really reflects us. And wisdom
begins to unfold. Respecting another, listening to another, taking
time to 'listen' to one self become the fruit of genuine happiness.

To listen is to take time to appreciate the feelings and thoughts of
those we love, or strangers we may pass in a grocery store check-out
lane, a bookstore, or a homeless person on the street. Today with
the great anger and fear building around the world, we need to hone
our listening skills as a nation. We need to practice patience and
listening, rather than speaking loudly (or acting such) -
grandparents - or elders in a community often know this. Only
through listening can we understand the world of another.

Last night
I saw the mother of the two children killed in Nazareth suffering in
the sadness that only the loss of a child can release. I believe
that if we could listen to the wisdom of mothers, we would never find
ourselves in war. Listening is something we all have to give one
another. It is the greatest gift we have. In our listening is our
attention and in that attention is our respect, our valuing of the
other person. In this world of mass anxiety, listening is essential
to peace.