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The UnCollege Blog

The Power of Listening: An Activity For Parents


As a parent, you are faced with many challenges, none of which are more complicated than helping your children through the transition into adulthood. Teenagers have enough to worry about in their day-to-day lives, which makes thinking about the future extremely stressful. To help them through this process, your most valuable asset is your ability to listen.

Empathetic listening is one of the most powerful ways we have to demonstrate our love and support. It seems like such an easy thing to do, but it takes time, an open heart, and practice to become a great listener. You must learn to be patient and refrain from trying to jump in and fix things for your child when they seek space to think and fully express themselves.

Here are a few links to articles on communication and resources from other sites that we find helpful:

The first two resources are from the Challenge Day website. Even though the tips address helping a teen with a weight challenge, they provide useful techniques for supporting your teen in any circumstance. The chapter download describes an actual listening session between a parent and child. It is very powerful.

The following links are articles written by Kate Michi who presented two workshops to Gap Year Fellows about communicating across differences. There are exercises and links to further communication and listening resources within the articles.

Here are some questions that will help you establish a healthy dialogue with your teen about their future.

How do you define authentic success? A life well lived?

What does it mean to thrive? How can I help you to thrive?

What really matters? Why?

What do you care about? Why is that important to you?

What is your biggest dream?

What support do you want from us? What support do we feel we can give?