Last week, I talked about the idea that we need to “embrace the ‘and’” in the context of our culture. We need to learn from each other, value others’ perspectives, and be willing to consider that two seemingly different truths can be true at the same time. My perspective can have value and someone else’s perspective can have value. It isn’t one or the other. This is a far cry from making our best argument, putting a stake in the ground, and being unwilling to hear anything that isn’t in complete alignment with our own perspective.
I briefly referenced how this same heart position would be helpful in our homes. This approach isn’t just for the workplace; it’s equally important when we’re with our families. Over the last several years, I’ve lost count of how many parents of young-adult children have commented how difficult it is to have meaningful conversations with their own kids. Certain topics can’t be brought up… or are quickly shut down. Been there myself.
I imagine our parents experienced some of these same feelings, but I’ll also go out on a limb and suggest that, while the 60s may have had some similar vibes, the current state of opinions seems more polarized than it has been in the last few decades.
This need to model listening and asking questions in a spirit of gaining understanding within our homes isn’t limited to politics and religion. Even in the normal tension of expanding responsibility and freedom as our children grow, if we simply lay down the law and never listen, we’re missing out on teaching them how to interact with others.
I remember as a teenager that I thought my parents’ rules were too much. I presented my case to my dad and he listened. We came to a place where I could have some more freedom… if I matched it with responsibility. Feeling heard was a deposit that allowed me to remain teachable and challenged me to increase in my maturity to maintain this new freedom.
With my own children, their opinions don’t necessarily line up with all of my views and we regularly don’t see eye to eye. So, I have a choice. I could silence any dissent… or we could engage in meaningful dialogue. If I won’t listen, how can I expect them to listen? Even if I’m right, I’ll lose my voice and any wisdom I could pass along if I refuse to consider how they came to their understanding.
People are complicated.
Families are complicated.
Keep it simple. Love and listen and love some more.