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Grandparents Listen!

March 15th, 2010


Are you a good listener?

Grandparents play an important role as listeners for their grandchildren.  Studies show that an activity with their grandparents most often mentioned by adolescents  is discussing what is on their mind.  Apparently we grandparents are good listeners.  –  But do we listen well enough to the non-verbal as well as the verbal?

At a presentation during a Commission on the Status of Women parallel session last week I heard a 13 year old girl explain that she had been sexually abused for seven years.   The abuser was a family member as is often the case.   She could not bring herself to tell her own mother.   She had no one to confide in.  She explained to us that it was easier for her to now tell us, the audience, than it had been to tell her mother.

No child should experience abuse and no child should have to carry the burden alone, having no one to confide in.

Would you have guessed that something was wrong  if this girl had been your grandchild?  To be truly good listeners for our grandchildren, we need to:

  • Love our grandchildren unconditionally; let them know we love them  and will stand by them no matter what happens.
  • Really listen to what they say and discuss without judgment.
  • Listen actively: nod our head; ask questions that show interest; repeat what the child says; say “hmm” or “I see”.
  • Tune into what is not verbally expressed, the child’s body language.   We may even copy her gestures.  Are they congruent with what he says?
  • With smaller children, play dolls or stuffed animals with them.   Be conscious of what they are saying as they act and talk with their dolls.
  • Remember that good listening and encouragement to share their own thoughts and concerns helps to build your grandchildren’s age-esteem.
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