Giving children a voice

I do  not think the value of listening to children and giving them a voice could be put any more powerfully then this poem that was recently brought to my attention.


When I ask you to listen to me,

and you start giving advice,

you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me,

and you begin to tell me,

why I shouldn’t feel that way,

you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me,

and you feel you have to, do

something to solve my problem,

you have failed me,

strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I asked, was that you listen,

not talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap:

you can get it anywhere.

And I can do for myself,

I am not helpless.

Maybe discouraged and faltering,

but not helpless.

When you do something for me,

that I can and need to do for myself,

you contribute to my fear and weakness.

But when you accept as a simple fact,

that I do feel what I feel,

no matter how irrational,

then I can quit trying to convince you,

and can go about the business,

of understanding what’s behind,

this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear,

the answers are obvious,

then I don’t need advice.

Irrational feelings make sense,

when we understand what’s behind them.

So please listen, and just hear me.

And, if you want to talk,

wait a minute for your turn,

and I’ll listen to you.

Ralph Roughton, M.D.

Thanks for this to Cathie Hutchinson

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