The Character Movement

Blah, Blah, Blah

Sometimes I overestimate both the importance of what I have to say and the hunger of my audience. This especially happens with my daughter, Tess. When Tess asks me a simple questions like, “Why is the sky blue?”, I’ll give her a needlessly long and complicated answer. So when she asks me a more complicated question like, “Where do babies come from?”, I’m ready to give her a treatise on the meaning of life.

A friend of mine once told me a story about the time he and his son were lying outside looking up at the stars. The father – in full father mode – dutifully pointed out the different constellations: Cassiopeia, Gemini, Orion, etc. The son turned to him and said, “Dad, to a seven-year-old, everything you’re saying is blah, blah, blah.”

At Youth Frontiers, we often talk about the idea of “earning the right to be heard” with students on our retreats. One way to do this is to give kids a voice in your own life. This might not work on your tax return or on your spousal relationship, but there are small ways to gather your children’s thoughts that will build trust, so that they listen to you to when you do need to say something important.

Everyone, no matter what their age, loves being asked for their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Kids are hungry to be asked real questions, not just the obligatory ones about what happened in school today or what they want to be when they grow up. Give your kids a voice to really challenge them to think. You may find by listening to them that they’ll start hearing more than “blah, blah, blah” when it’s your turn to speak.

Here are some examples that my peers have used with their kids:

I’m not sure what to do about a coworker’s attitude. Do you have any ideas how to help him/her?
I’m looking into volunteering for an hour each week. If you could fix something about the world, what would it be?
I want to start an Instagram account. What sort of pictures should I take?
I said something that hurt a friend’s feelings. What do you think I should do to make it right?

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