I was hanging out with some friends over the weekend who have three kids, ages 3, 12 and 14. There is a lot of noise in their house compared to mine as I have one partner and two cats. I will admit that my partner and one of my cats can be pretty noisy, but nothing compared to a house full of youngsters. (Ohmigod, did I really say, "youngsters??") During the evening, the two older kids, their parents and I were talking. Jake, the 14 year old got frustrated when he couldn't get his mother's attention. His voice got really loud and he started having a teenage fit by saying that his mother never listened to him. He complained that his little sister always made a lot of noise and she got what she so he felt like he had to get even louder than her to be heard.
Ann, his mother tried to reason with him, kind of defending herself. Hunter, his 12 year old brother asked, "Would you like me to show you how I get Mom's attention?" Well, Jake didn't really want to hear his younger brother's idea but I (being the outsider) said I wanted to hear it.
So Hunter went ahead and said, "When I want Mom's attention I just go over to her and touch her arm." As he said this, he demonstrated. It was like a light bulb went off in Ann's mind. She said that gesture would absolutely get her attention. Jake wasn't so sure so we practiced it. He actually reached out to touch his mother to see what she would do. Of course, she gave him her undivided attention.
What happened next was amazing. We all started to have a conversation about him, his schooling, what was working and what he didn't like. He talked about missing his home school friends and how challenging some of the homework is. The conversation between he and his parents was amazing. Everyone was paying close attention and I was there to slow things down and ask different kinds of questions. Jake went from feeling tight and distant to feeling heard and hopeful. His body language changed from being really contracted and drawn in to becoming loose, calm and more confident.
What was so exciting about this was that, with some consciousness, persistence, love and a true desire to communicate these family members were able to deepen their understanding of each other. The bonds between them got stronger and you could feel the warmth, trust and sweetness in their family.
What a world it can be if we can stay connected to our hearts and trust that what we have to say, what we want to say, will be heard.