Sometimes We Just Need to Listen

I have been thinking lately about the power of listening. Sometimes we forget how important it is to just listen, to hear what someone else is saying. When I pick up my granddaughter at school, I tell her I want to know all about her day. I ask her for the details. What did you draw in art class? What did you do on the playground? If she tells me her day was “good” or “fine,” I push a little harder. She now expects that.

Our children are moving farther and farther away from us. They get so distracted by the computers, the phones, the iPods. They don’t often come to us wanting to “talk.” And we get so busy—doing things that seem important at the time—that we forget to go to them.

A few days ago, I sat down with a group of adolescents and asked the question, “Can any good come out of this tragedy? Can we learn anything from what happened to Trayvon?” One of the young men said something I wasn’t expecting. He said, “Sometimes we have to wear a suit—people in suits don’t get shot.” A few of the teens went on to say that what you wear and how you project yourself really does matter, that being who you are can be dangerous. That was their perception. That was what they took away from the story. I was so surprised and rather pleased that they all were so open, sharing that with me.

For these youth, it was bigger than Trayvon. They were going back to other incidents they had heard about, even tragedies in their own neighborhoods. They were thinking about perception, diversity, stereotypes, assumptions. It wasn’t about blame. It was about the violent death of a child,

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and what could be done to keep that from happening again.

I am always struck by what I hear when I just listen. Now I can meet these youth where they are. I can help them work through what they’re struggling with. But if I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t know.

Sharing Is Caring

Author

Name: Dr. Sheryl Brissett Chapman

About: Dr. Sheryl Brissett Chapman, Ed.D., ACSW, Executive Director, provides agency administrative oversight, consultative support for all programs, and ensures overall contract and program compliance. Dr. Chapman has more than 40 years of experience supervising national, state and local human services programs, and is an expert on child and family welfare and child protection.

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Founded in 1915 as an orphanage in the District of Columbia, NCCF is a private, nonprofit child and family welfare agency with a commitment to serving poor, disadvantaged, abused, neglected and/or abandoned children, youth, and their families.

Current program services include emergency shelters and transitional housing for homeless families, a high-intensity therapeutic group home, therapeutic and traditional foster care and adoption, independent living for youth transitioning to adulthood, teen parent services, and community-based prevention services that promote academic achievement, parental involvement, economic and vocational stability, and healthy families. Our programs have become social service models, redefining both NCCF’s reputation and the agency’s position in the human service continuum in the Washington Metropolitan Region.

blog-sidebar-aboutUs-logo

Founded in 1915 as an orphanage in the District of Columbia, NCCF is a private, nonprofit child and family welfare agency with a commitment to serving poor, disadvantaged, abused, neglected and/or abandoned children, youth, and their families.

Current program services include emergency shelters and transitional housing for homeless families, a high-intensity therapeutic group home, therapeutic and traditional foster care and adoption, independent living for youth transitioning to adulthood, teen parent services, and community-based prevention services that promote academic achievement, parental involvement, economic and vocational stability, and healthy families. Our programs have become social service models, redefining both NCCF’s reputation and the agency’s position in the human service continuum in the Washington Metropolitan Region.

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